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Rainy weather and Brexit uncertainty were named as factors that kept shoppers away from the high street last autumn, according to figures from the BRC-Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor. During the four weeks from 29th September to 26th October 2019, UK footfall saw a year-on-year decline of 3.2%. Springboard marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle said, “The drop in footfall of -3.2% was the worst result for October in seven years. Whilst it can’t be regarded as a purely pre-Brexit breakdown as the weather also played a part, the prevailing political uncertainty must be having a considerable impact on activity given the low level of consumer confidence.”
The figures also highlighted that on the high street footfall declined at a steeper rate than in September, at 4.9%.
It’s not all doom and gloom for independents however, with Alice Evans, co-owner of Broad Bean deli, saying that the business didn’t experience dips in visitor numbers. She said, “Our sales are up 20% on October last year; but we are still a growing business with developing marketing strategies and inventive ideas. I think that it is important to remember that as a small independent food retailer we can adapt much quicker to changes in consumer shopping. People want plastic-free, we can deliver plastic-free within a few weeks rather than a few years; whereas multinationals are already buying packaging for next year while we buy month-on-month. We launched ‘meet the producer’ in conjunction with Buy-From Food and Drink on Thursday mornings throughout October to try to draw people in out of the rain to sample products and meet the people behind them which were a huge success. Both consumers and producers enjoyed them and we saw an increase in sales of those products in the weeks following the events.
“Also, people have to eat and whereas uncertain Brexit plans may make people cut back or hold fire from making larger purchases, day-to-day shopping for food continues whatever the climate and whatever the weather. A large percentage of our customers are affluent and retired and shop on a daily basis. It’s going to take more than politics and weather to stop them shopping.”
Image credit: Simon King