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Retail footfall edges down 0.4% despite fall in shop vacancy rates

UK retail footfall edged down 0.4% year-on-year in October with retail parks the only locations seeing sales growth in the month.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Retail footfall edges down 0.4% despite fall in shop vacancy rates

The figures from the British Retail Consortium and Springboard’s monthly footfall monitor reveal that high street footfall dropped for the second consecutive month although the 0.4% fall was marginally better than the 0.5% decline in September.

Footfall in shopping centres dropped by 1.8% which was up from the 2.5% fall in the previous month. However, the decline was the ninth consecutive drop in footfall for the locations.

Meanwhile, footfall in retail park locations grew 1.1% after September’s minor fall of 0.01%.

Helen Dickinson, BRC director general, said: “Today’s figures underline some of the challenges facing bricks and mortar retailers. However, the picture is mixed across the country – while most areas saw a decline in shopper numbers, the North and Yorkshire region showed a 0.5% year-on-year increase.

“Interestingly, October’s BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor showed a 1.7% increase in like-for-like sales growth across the country, which perhaps suggests that shoppers may still be prepared to shell out for a bargain, but they are increasingly doing so from their laptops or mobile devices.”

The BRC and Springboard have also published their quarterly shop vacancy rate which shows a decline in town centre shop vacancies to 9.5% from 10.1% in July. The BRC said the North and Yorkshire as well as Northern Ireland welcomed more stores in their high streets in the period, but the vacancy rate in Scotland spiked to 9.2% from 7.5% in July.

Dickinson added: “We will watch this trend carefully, but there is some suggestion that landlords are welcoming retail tenants on shorter leases. While this could be good in the short term for retailers needing more flexible arrangements, it also bears witness to a lack of long-term stability in many areas.”

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