Retail traffic in the U.K. dropped by 2.8% last month compared to June of last year, the biggest decrease since February 2014, according to figures released Monday by the British Retail Consortium and research firm Springboard.
City centers, shopping malls and retail parks all experienced declines, the first time all three location types reported traffic decreases since December 2013. Retailers on main streets saw a 3.7% traffic drop, malls experienced a 2.3% drop, and retail park traffic fell by 1% after rising by 1% in May.
While British Retail Consortium and Springboard executives said the so-called Brexit vote has made U.K. consumers wary, there were other reasons for the June traffic drop, including inclement weather and distractions like the Euro 2016 soccer tournament and the Wimbledon tennis championship.
The United Kingdom's vote to exit the European Union has created enough uncertainty about economic stability to make many consumers nervous. And nervous consumers are not usually in the mood to open their pocketbooks to retailers.
“With such major political and economic news in June, it is unsurprising that there was drop in footfall of 2.8% across the U.K. in June, the poorest monthly result for more than two years and a marked worsening of performance since May when footfall rose slightly by 0.3%,” Diane Wehrle, Springboard's marketing & insights director, said in a statement. “The results are shaped by a political and economic storm against a backdrop of rain.”
British Retail Consortium CEO Helen Dickinson downplayed Brexit’s effects somewhat, and noted that the pressure on retailers to compete in the iffy climate is great for shoppers.
‘’Despite today’s figures showing the deepest decline in footfall since February 2014, the same period has seen U.K. retail sales rise,” Dickinson said. “June has seen many distractions from Euro 2016 to Wimbledon, so heading out to the shops seems to have slipped down the priority list for many. In the coming months we all must redouble our efforts to remind customers that now is a great time to shop."
Amazon’s new U.K. chief Doug Gurr said earlier this month that the Brexit vote hasn’t had an impact on sales and that the e-commerce giant would create another 1,000 jobs in the country this year.