High Street footfall nosedives by 25 per cent with commuters and foreign travellers not returning

The government borrowed £151.8 billion in the year to March,though the figure was less than half that borrowed in the first year of the pandemic

High street footfall fell 25 per cent in May, from the previous month, according to RSM UK’s analysis of the latest data from Datscha, published this morning.

London continues to be hit by hybrid working with less workers commuting into the city, and international and business travel is still not back at full capacity.

Whereas Glasgow was hit by train strikes in May, coupled with weak consumer confidence and workers only trickling back into the office.

The biggest month-on-month decreases were seen in Glasgow (down 54 per cent), Newcastle (down 40 per cent) and Brighton (down 39 per cent).

Footfall is still 48 per cent lower than pre-pandemic levels, driven by London (down 68 per cent), Newcastle (down 67 per cent) and Glasgow (down 67 per cent).

However, Guildford and Leeds bucked the trend, increasing 8 per cent and 2 per cent month on month, and were the only two cities to exceed pre-pandemic levels in May.

Jacqui Baker, partner and head of retail at RSM UK, noted that “it’s surprising to see such a sharp drop in footfall levels given the bank holiday and school half-term in May. But this was the first month that consumers really felt the magnitude of various prices increases, such as energy and fuel.

She added: “Consumer confidence also reached an all-time low of -41 per cent. As a result, consumers are having to tighten their purse strings which we’re witnessing on the high streets.”

“There’s still fewer foreign tourists visiting the UK, particularly from China which only came out of lockdown at the beginning of June. Retailers will be banking on international travel to ramp up during the summer and provide footfall levels with a much-needed boost,” Baker concluded.