Retail footfall in May, June and July fell 1% across the UK, compared to the same period in 2010, but this masked big regional differences, according to the research conducted by Springboard for the BRC. Wales and the West Midlands saw footfall slump by 9.2% and 6.6% respectively, while Greater London actually saw a 1.6% rise.
These big regional differences were reflected by the experiences of bakers that BB spoke to. A spokesperson for Greggs said the company was doing its best business in London and the south east, "but the north seems to be a lot tougher". Paul May, CEO of Patisserie Holdings, which owns Patisserie Valerie and Druckers, said that trading in the West Midlands had also been tough. "Our London stores have been really resilient this year and are showing positive growth. However, our Druckers stores in the West Midlands have had to work really hard just to stay level. We also closed a couple of stores in Wales last year."
Mike Holling of Birds of Derby said that variable footfall was also an issue within individual regions. "We are seeing pockets of positive and negative areas," he said. "Our shops in the city centres of Nottingham and Derby are struggling more, but the suburbs are doing well, as are shops in market towns where the councils are trying to make an effort."
BRC director general Stephen Robertson said the regional differences were related to cuts in the public sector, where this formed a bigger proportion of the economy and where customer spending was likely to be hit.