Footfall down 0.7% in January
New figures have shown that retail footfall dropped by 0.7% in January to mark a 14th consecutive month of decline.
However, the data from the British Retail Consortium and Springboard in their monthly footfall monitor reveals that the decline was smaller than the 1.6% fall seen in January 2018.
Helen Dickinson, BRC chief executive, said:“Footfall fell by less than the previous year as firms focused on in-store discounts – bringing relatively more people onto the streets. On the other hand the slight increase in the vacancy rate will be a cause for concern at many shopping destinations.”
High street footfall edged down 0.7% in the month while footfall in shopping centres dropped by 0.9%. Meanwhile, footfall in retail parks declined by 0.3%.
Diane Wehrle, Springboard marketing and insights director, warned against thinking that trading conditions have stablised due to the decline being smaller than the same month last year.
She added: “On closer interrogation, the clear fact is that all of this improvement emanates from the first week when footfall rose by 2.6% whilst dropping by an average of 2.1% over the three subsequent weeks. And in even in the first week the uplift was largely driven by one day - New Year’s Eve (Monday 31 December) - which showed an uplift of 151%; which again should be taken with a pinch of salt as it was compared against New Year’s Day in 2017 when trading hours were more limited and the weather was very poor.”
The two organisations also looked at vacancies and found that the national town centre vacancy rate rose to 9.9% in January from 9.6% in October. Last month’s rate was also worse than the January 2018 rate of 8.9%.
Dickinson said: “Consumers are making fewer visits to physical stores, choosing to research and pay for a greater proportion of their purchases online. This requires a reinvention of retail, with outlets investing in their physical space to encourage a more experience-led approach to shopping – something which is being held back by sky high business rates.”
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