High street footfall plummets as consumers feel the cost-of-living strain

27 june 2022

High street footfall fell 25% in May 2022, from the previous month*, according to RSM UK’s analysis of the latest data from Datscha.

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

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

However, Guildford and Leeds bucked the trend, increasing 8% and 2% 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, comments: ‘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. Consumer confidence also reached an all-time low of -41%. 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.’

* 7.55m (April 2022) vs 5.66m (May 2022).
** 10.93m (May 2019) vs 5.66m (May 2022).