Shopper footfall was down by 0.7% in May, lower than a year ago, and down from the 1% rise in April, according to new figures.The BRC/Springboard Footfall Monitor revealed a mixed picture across the UK – with footfall down by 1% on high streets, but up 1.2% in out-of-town areasThe hardest-hit parts of the UK were Northern Ireland (-3.1%), the West Midlands (-2.9%) and the East Midlands (-2.6%).Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium director general, said: “On the surface these figures are fairly flat, but they’re masking widespread regional variations and only two areas in England – Greater London and the East – are showing positive footfall growth compared with May 2012. As the recent unemployment figures highlighted, the outlook in terms of job prospects and economic growth is by no means ‘one size fits all’ across the UK. “While footfall saw a slight drop compared with May 2012, the month’s respectable sales growth suggests that conversion rates were good: people made fewer trips, but responded well to good deals, especially on value ranges and seasonal promotions. Where there was a little growth, retail parks led the way and this could explain why furniture – most commonly sited out of town – was the month’s best-performing category according to our Retail Sales Monitor.“Now that we’re into June, retailers will be hoping that summer sales and sunshine will make for a stronger showing next time.”
Paul Casey has set his sights on following in the footsteps of US Open champion Justin Rose after putting years of injury woes behind him with a dramatic victory in the Irish Open. Press Association A closing 67 – four shots better than anyone in the last 12 groups – gave the 35-year-old a total of 14 under par, three clear of playing partner Robert Rock (71) and overnight leader Joost Luiten, who had been looking for his second win in three events but could only manage a 74. “Psychologically this is huge,” said Casey Casey will now turn his attentions to trying to win the Scottish Open to qualify for the Open Championship at Muirfield, with Rose’s recent US Open triumph a massive inspiration. “That really lit the fire,” added Casey. “Justin’s victory was phenomenal and I was so proud of what he did and how he handled himself.” He added: “It’s well documented how he struggled at the beginning of his career and I have seen the work he has put in to become one of the best players in the world. I have been there before and I desperately want to be in control of my game and winning championships again. “I was ready back in 2009 when I was playing some phenomenal golf and I’m really ready now for everything that happens after a major victory. That’s the goal.” Casey was ranked third in the world in 2009 but began the week 169th after form and fitness problems, most notably after suffering a broken collarbone while snowboarding in late 2011. He also went through a painful divorce around the same time and admitted he feared that he would never rediscover the form which brought him three consecutive Ryder Cup appearances – the first two of them record wins at Oakland Hills and the K Club – from 2004. “It’s difficult to pinpoint a moment but there was a period where I really struggled with getting the shoulder back where I wanted it and I probably came back too early because the swing changed trying to protect the shoulder,” added Casey, whose win takes him back into the world’s top 100.