The latest Retail Footfall Index from Experian revealed a 4.4 per cent month-on-month fall, more pronounced than the usual drop in shopper numbers due to the two Bank Holidays and early summer weather that traditionally knock May footfall.

Year-on-year UK shopper numbers fell by 2.4 per cent during May. A 0.1 per cent rise in numbers in the South East was countered by falls of 8 per cent in Wales and the South West.

The figures show considerable regional variation. Despite the slight South East uplift, London shopper numbers fell by 4.6 per cent, a similar drop to the Yorkshire and Humber region.

“There may be fewer shoppers on the high street, but Experian’s latest Insight Reports shows that they are savvier, better informed and less inclined to make spontaneous purchases. We are seeing the emergence of what we call maximising behaviour,” says Joe Staton, director of planning at Experian company The Future Foundation. He says consumers are determined to make the best and most rational decisions about what they buy. “More people are researching products before either visiting the high street or purchasing online.”

“We expect annual retail sales volume growth to slow further over the next few months as weak disposable income growth, rising unemployment, low levels of consumer confidence and an increase in savings take their toll on spending,” says Experian senior global economist Matthew Sherwood.

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