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Industry News December footfall reflects changing shopping habits

Published on October 17th, 2017 | by The GC Team

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Retail footfall on downward trend

Retail footfall fell for the third consecutive month in September, an indication that consumers are reining-in spending.

The BRC – Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor showed a 1.2% year-on-year decline, with the East being the only region to see increased growth.

High Street footfall dropped 2.2%, following a 2.6% fall in August. Shopping Centres showed a further decrease of 1.0% (0.8% in August), while Retail Parks continued to see positive growth of 1.1%, albeit down from the 1.6% recorded last month.  

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief-Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said the figures had a sense of “unwelcome déjà vu” around them and warned that the growing cost of doing business leaves little to no wiggle room for retailers to invest in their store proposition. 

“With September’s RPI expected to be at least 4% meaning retailers’ business rates bills will surge by quarter of a billion pounds in 2018, the prospect of a further investment-sapping rise is deeply worrying and will only serve to make things tougher on the high street,” Dickinson commented.

“In his Budget next month, the Chancellor has an opportunity to offer local communities and high streets some much needed respite from risks to local shops and jobs by scrapping next year’s rise in business rates.”

Diane Wehrle, Springboard Marketing and Insights Director, said: “September’s sales rose due to inflation, but the accelerating decline in footfall is a strong indicator of consumers railing back spending. Much is often made about the impact of weather, but with similar weather conditions to September 2016, this cannot be put forward as a driver. Aggressive early season sales indicate retailers are spooked, and they will be on edge with the six-week countdown now on to the start of the festive shopping season.”

Wehrle added that the decline in footfall doesn’t just mean reduced spending on retail goods. “Drops in footfall across all periods of the 24-hour day demonstrate that leisure and hospitality spending is also being curtailed,” she said.

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