Following the heatwave over the early and mid summer months, the weather has been far chillier in August, bringing an end to the retail mini boom.
Footfall data from the BRC-Springboard revealed disappointing figures for retailers last month.
Overall retail footfall in the
UK in August fell by 1.6 per cent, which compares with a threemonth rolling average of minus
1.1 per cent, 50 basis points below trend.
Of the three components of the monitor, shopping centres fared the worst with footfall 2.4 per cent down year-on-year.
High street footfall fell by 2.0 per cent, down against a weak comparative of minus 2.6 per cent and well below the three-month rolling average of minus 0.5 per cent.
Retail parks, which are the most flexible format for many, given the tendency for more ample and affordable car parking, witnessed a rise in footfall in August of 0.3 per cent, which was better than the three month average rate of 0.2 per cent.
No region of the UK was in positive footfall territory in August.
Analyst Clive Black at Shore Capital said the latest economic data supports the broker’s ongoing investment themes where it favours the grocers, pure play clothing, good discounters and credible self-help stories.
He said that grocery is outperforming non-food and there is a channel shift in non-food to online.
At the same time as these changes, there is an ongoing battle for survival for many store-based retailers.
Debenhams shares plunged on Monday after KPMG was called in to help draft emergency plans to save the troubled retailer.
The department store is said to be considering a list of options including a company voluntary agreement (CVA), a controversial insolvency procedure used by struggling firms to shut underperforming shops.
If Debenhams charges ahead with a CVA, it would join a raft of retailers including New Look, Carpetright and Mothercare, who have opted for the restructuring tool despite anger from landlords who have argued it leaves them out of pocket.
Mr Black believes that September could be tough for the retail sector.
“‘Back to porridge’ seems to be the mood as many households pay for those more expensive beers and G&Ts encountered abroad following sterling’s weakness, whilst starting to cast an eye towards funding Christmas,” he said.
However, the cooler weather could help shift clothing and footwear as we head into autumn.
Mr Black also sees scope for food prices to nudge a little higher due to the hot northern hemisphere hitting crop yields and so feeding into higher prices.
Any such increments can reasonably be expected to eat into discretionary spend.
As such, living standards may plateau rather than nudge ahead.
As the Conservative Party threatens to rip itself in two over Brexit and the majority of the population have no faith in the Chequers deal, consumers face a frosty period ahead of them.
The heady days of summer and England’s success in the World Cup are well and truly behind us.