Despite April showing the strongest year-on-year rise in retail footfall for over five years (since February 2004), May numbers have fallen by 5.1 per cent against May 2008.
Retail footfall levels were also down by 3.1 per cent in May against April 2009.
Synovate retail psychologist Dr Tim Denison explained: “Over the last two months, the latest bugbear to have hit high street retailers is ‘shopper unpredictability’.
“The first quarter was understandably subdued, but expectedly so. Consumer confidence was crushed and this reflected harshly both on retail sales and footfall. April, however, was better than any of us could have wished for; it was certainly far busier than we had forecast.
“For retailers, the current consumer state presents new challenges. Should they continue to develop and run even more creative one-off promotions, stimulating demand, but sacrificing margin, or should they look to shore up and back ‘the new retail reality’ of every day low prices.
“It seems to me that the way forward in the short-term is about ‘catching the imagination’; whether that is through impactful promotions or must-have products. There is still an opportunity for retailers to generate desire, particularly as the heady days of summer approach.”
Synovate also highlighted the trust retailers are now placing in the stay at home or ‘staycation’ phenomenon and predicted that retailers in or near traditional UK-based tourist resorts will see sales uplifts in holiday/weather related products.