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Jubilee lift for UK retailers as high street footfall rises

Tillie Demetriou
8 Jun 2022

UK retailers were given a much-needed boost over the bank holiday weekend, as the number of people visiting shops rose by 17% compared to the average for May.

The increase in footfall is welcome news for the retail sector, which has been struggling in recent months due to rising inflation and stagnant wages. The BRC’s monthly sales monitor for May showed consumer demand being squeezed by the cost of living crunch that had already deterred many people from spending.

However, it seems that the extra days off for the jubilee celebrations was enough to tempt people back to the high street, with Thursday 2 June – the actual bank holiday – seeing a 45.5% increase in footfall compared to the May average.

“It was great to see so many people out celebrating and shopping at their favourite local destinations – a welcome boost for retail businesses reliant on store performance, particularly on the high street,” said the BRC’s chief executive, Helen Dickinson. “We hope that the momentum can continue despite the ongoing economic turbulence.”

Sales in May 2022 were 1% below the previous year, with higher-value items such as furniture and electronics taking the biggest hit. Fashion and beauty products were the strongest performers as shoppers prepared for summer.

“It is clear the post-pandemic spending bubble has burst, with retailers facing tougher trading conditions, falling consumer confidence, and soaring inflation impacting consumers spending power,” Dickinson said.

Retailers will be hoping that the increase in footfall over the bank holiday weekend is a sign that consumers are starting to feel more confident about spending again. 

With the summer holidays just around the corner, it’s crucial for businesses to start seeing an uptick in sales if they are to avoid a tough few months.