UK high streets suffer worst July trading since 2009 due to heavy rainfall

3 August 2023, 15:11

Wet weather has meant the number of Brits shopping in July fell for the first time in 14 year.
Wet weather has meant the number of Brits shopping in July fell for the first time in 14 year. Picture: Alamy

By Sam Rucker

The number of people going shopping in July dropped for the first time in 14 years as the UK suffered from one of the wettest months on record.

Footfall dropped by 0.3% between June and July this year, representing the first contraction in July trading since 2009, according to retail analysis firm Springboard.

Springboard said the cost of living crisis and rail strikes also contributed to a lacklustre month for the High Street, predicting shoppers may stay away even if August proves to be drier.

"With… many holidays either paid for or taken, it is inevitable that consumers' attention will now turn towards planning for Christmas spending, which may well dampen footfall further in the latter part of the summer," said the firm's Insights Director Diane Wehrle.

Shopper braces rainy weather
Shopper braces rainy weather. Picture: Alamy

High Streets in coastal towns suffered particularly badly – with footfall dropping by 4.6% – as the rain kept Britons away from beaches.

Wehrle added how mortgage rates were beginning to "seep into people's finances… putting a serious squeeze on everyone."

The average two-year fixed mortgage rate is now around 6% in the UK.

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Retail parks and shopping centres fared slightly better, seeing footfall increase in July by 0.7% and 1.7% respectively. As the UK went through the sixth wettest July on record, Wehrle said shoppers gravitated towards their "covered environments”.

Cinemas also saw a boost to their visitor numbers in July, with Vue Box Office’s revenue growing by 56% compared to June 2023.

Whilst cinemas have been buoyed by the box office success of the Barbe and Oppenheimer films, the "wet weather had undoubtedly played its part,” according to a Vue Box Office spokesperson.