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Industry News December footfall reflects changing shopping habits

Published on May 15th, 2015 | by The GC Team

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Retail footfall dips in April

Retail footfall dipped 0.8% in April, down from a 0.2% rise in March.

Figures released today by the British Retail Consortium and Springboard show that high streets and shopping centres reported a decline, falling 0.1% and 3.0% respectively, while footfall in out-of-town locations fared best with a 0.5% increase year on year, although this is the lowest figure recorded since September 2014.

Four regions and countries reported footfall above the UK average, with the East, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Greater London all recording positive growth.

“This month’s figures follow a similar pattern to the long term trend – footfall on the high street and in shopping centres is down slightly and out-of-town destinations have seen an increase in shopper numbers, but only a slight one. This is despite prices continuing to tumble and consumer confidence climbing,” said Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium Director General.

BRC/Springboard also reported that the national town centre vacancy rate fell to 10.2% for the month of April, down from the 10.4% rate reported in January 2015.

Diane Wehrle, Retail Insights Director at Springboard, said this result was a “clear positive”, with improvements recorded in six of the ten areas of the UK.

“It seems that despite the shift of consumers to omni-channel shopping behaviour, town centre occupiers are seeing the benefit of having bricks and mortar stores as part of their proposition. Part of this improved position may well be a consequence of landlords adopting a more flexible approach in the face of the increasing number of retail leases that are expiring and, indeed, if this is the case then it appears to be a situation that is benefiting our retail locations.”

BRC’s Dickinson added: “The stubbornness of the footfall figures may be explained by the similar obstinacy in the vacancy rate figure. Since the BRC started collecting these figures shop vacancy rates have never fallen below 10%. We’ve long argued that vacant units put shoppers off visiting an area and the long term trend in these numbers bear that out.

“For everyone looking to secure a sustainable future for our high streets and town centres, the priority must be to drive shop vacancies down in order to see shopper numbers rise. A good first step would be securing the reform of business rates and thereby removing one of the most significant barriers to re-opening abandoned shops.”

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