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Industry News December footfall reflects changing shopping habits

Published on September 11th, 2017 | by The GC Team

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Retail footfall declines as shoppers head online

Bricks & mortar retail received another blow in August as footfall dropped 1.2% against the previous year.

High street footfall fell 2.6% following a 2.1% decline in July, while visitors to shopping centres fell by 0.8%.  Retail parks again recorded a year-on-year increase, with a rise of 1.6%.

According to Diane Wehrle, Springboard Marketing and Insights Director, at least part of the reason for the more subdued footfall was a rise in online activity, in terms of both value and volume. Online sales rose by 11%, the greatest rise this year and significantly up on the 6.2% last August and the 8.3% increase in July.

The uplift in online sales volumes, at 8.7%, was a third higher than the 5.5% recorded in July, with the increase in transactions of 27.6% via mobile devices higher than in any month since October last year.

“In part, the rise in online activity will have been a result of much cooler rainy weather this August than in 2016, which undoubtedly discouraged some shopping trips,” said Wehrle.

“However, it is also a function of increasing inflationary pressures driving consumers online in a search for lower prices, which is likely to only become more significant as inflation continues to increase its bite on household budgets.”

Helen Dickinson, Chief-Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Encouraging shoppers back to more of our town centres is crucial to reducing the high number of vacant premises and the increasing gap between the vibrant and in-demand areas and those at the much more economically fragile end of the spectrum.

“The increasing number of locations falling further and further behind continues to grow. These areas clearly have their work cut out to attract custom with the right mix of retail, leisure and other facilities and ensuring ease of access and parking.

“A far more concerted and urgent effort is required from policymakers to stem and ultimately reduce the cost of doing business, particularly in our more economically fragile communities. Not applying the planned inflationary increase to business rates next April would be a place to start.”

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