High street footfall succumbs to economic uncertainty in October

23 November 2022
  • London’s Oxford Street sees nearly 40% drop in footfall
  • UK footfall 31% lower than in 2021

UK high street footfall plummeted 28% in October from the previous month. Footfall on Oxford Street in London suffered an even more dramatic decline, down 37% in the same period.

According to RSM UK’s analysis of the latest data from Datscha which tracks key high streets, all major cities across the UK experienced decreases in footfall with Manchester’s Market Street and Guildford’s High Street seeing the biggest drops, both down 38% in October from the previous month.

The decline in footfall is largely driven by the economic and political uncertainty faced by consumers which was heightened last month according to leading audit, tax and consultancy firm RSM. Artificially high levels in September due to the passing of Her Majesty the Queen, particularly in London, will have also contributed to the drastic fall.

UK footfall in October has now fallen behind the same period in 2021 for the second time this year, but at an even more significant rate (down 31%). 

Jacqui Baker, partner and head of retail at RSM UK, comments: ‘Retailers are bearing the brunt of the decline in footfall across the board, and it paints a clear picture that the weight of recent economic uncertainty is really hitting home for consumers. The energy price cap increase in October will have been front of mind for many households, exacerbated by the shifting sands in the political landscape and a mini-Budget that was supposed to deliver certainty, but instead left a sizeable hole in the UK’s public finances. This will have eroded consumer confidence even further, meaning the impact of the October half term and Halloween events was subdued, and not enough for footfall levels to recover.

‘Looking ahead, retailers are relying heavily on Black Friday and the remainder of the Christmas period to bring shoppers to the high street. But so far, the Golden Quarter hasn’t quite lived up to expectations. Retailers need to be prepared in case this continues through to the end of the year, or January could come as a real shock.’