Fuel worries and wet weather kept buyers home in September

Increasingly humid weather and growing concerns over fuel and supply shortages through September have held back the recovery of retailers hit by the pandemic, new figures show.

The latest BRC-Sensormatic IQ monthly footfall monitor showed that footfall to UK shopping destinations fell 16.8% in the five weeks to October 2 compared to the same period in 2019, before let the pandemic strike.

Bosses of the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said they believe some buyers have chosen to stay home due to weather conditions and concerns over fuel access.

Helen Dickinson, BRC CEO, said: “While attendance at the start of September was strong, it slowed down over the month as increased precipitation and continued fuel and supply issues convinced some consumers to stay home.

The latest figures showed that shopping malls had another scorching month.

Attendance at shopping malls in September was 35.6% down from the same level in 2019, delaying their recovery as the level of decline increased 2.7 percentage points from August.

High Streets reported that attendance was down 22.6% from the same period two years ago, as its recovery improved from August.

Meanwhile, shopping parks revealed that attendance was only 1.6% lower than the same month in 2019, as they continued to be particularly resilient.

The numbers come in the midst of a tough time for the industry as retailers tackle driver shortages, staff availability issues and global supply chain disruptions.

Ms Dickinson added: “As Christmas approaches, it is imperative that the government take further action to address the driver shortage that increases costs and creates delays throughout the supply chain.

“Traders are trying to recruit and train thousands of new UK drivers, but 5,000 visas are not enough to fill the void in the short term.

“The government should expand the visa regime to prevent customers from facing significant disruption this Christmas.”

Andy Sumpter, Retail Consultant for Europe, Middle East and Asia at Sensormatic Solutions, said: “Going forward, retailers will rely on the Golden Quarter to capitalize on the Christmas business. while the recovery of the main street continues.

“And with our research showing that 79% of consumers will start their party shopping by early December, October and November will be critical months for encouraging shoppers to return to the store.”

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