Bank holiday shopper footfall 'down 4%'

Oxford Street shoppers Image copyright Reuters

The number of people out shopping in the UK on Saturday and Sunday fell by 4.1% compared with last year's August bank holiday, retail researchers say.

Analysis firm Springboard had predicted a 6.5% increase in footfall at shopping centres, retail parks and high streets.

Springboard's Diane Wehrle said she was surprised by the decline, which could not be blamed solely on bad weather.

Bank holidays were becoming more focused on leisure activities such as eating out, she said.

The August bank holiday is taken in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but not in Scotland.

Late night shoppers

Ms Wehrle said there had been a shift from daytime shopping to evening trips.

Footfall at shopping centres rose by 7.3% between 5pm and 8pm on Saturday, compared with the same day last year, and soared 17.4% for the four hours until midnight.

The post-8pm increase for shopping centres reflected a rise in the number of food and beverage outlets in shopping centres compared with last year, Ms Wehrle explained.

On the High Street, there were 8% more shoppers between 5pm and 8pm and a 10.8% increase between 8pm and midnight.

However, when both Saturday and Sunday were combined, footfall at shopping centres was down by 7%, shopping centres recorded a 3.3% decline and the total for out-of-town retail parks was 2.4% lower.

Image copyright Getty Images

Tom Nathan, general manager at Brent Cross shopping centre in north London, said he was not concerned as trading in July and August had been quite resilient.

"Some of the schools are going back a bit later this year, which could have been partly responsible, so I anticipate a busy week ahead as people shop for back to school items," he told the BBC. "It certainly looked very busy yesterday - the restaurants were rammed."

Mr Nathan also said that fluctuations in shopping patterns might depend on the weather.

Data released earlier this month from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggested warmer weather and the weaker pound had helped boost retail sales in July.

Retail sales rose by 5.9% compared with the same month last year, the ONS said.

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