UK footfall down 1.3% in January
New figures have revealed that UK footfall in January was 1.3% down year-on-year.
The data from the British Retail Consortium and Springboard shows that high street footfall edged down 0.8% while footfall in retail parks fell by 0.4% to mark the third consecutive month of decline.
Meanwhile, footfall in shopping centres dropped for the twelfth month running with a fall of 3%.
Diane Wehrle, Springboard insights director, said: “The 1.3% drop in footfall across the UK's bricks and mortar destinations in January may be a sign of tougher things to come in 2017. Not only was it a noticeably larger drop than the 0.2% in December; but it was the steepest decline since June 2016, when footfall was impacted in the preceding weeks and in the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum.
“The results are consistent with longer term footfall trends, with an underperformance of shopping centres against high streets and retail parks. Of significance is that footfall is correlating closely with retail sales, with all sales results published so far showing a poorer performance in January than in January 2016. Springboard's own data on bricks and mortar sales showed a 1.5% drop in January from January 2015.”
The BRC and Springboard, which also compile data on vacancy rates, found that the national town centre vacancy rate was 9.4% in January down from 9.5% in October 2016. This is the lowest rate since January 2016 when it stood at 8.7%.
On a regional level, London saw the strongest improvement with the proportion of empty shops falling from 9.5% to 8.4% over the three months to January. Seven areas within the UK reported a vacancy rate below the UK average with the South West, the East, the South East and the South West recording the lowest rates. At 14%, Northern Ireland had the highest vacancy rate.
Helen Dickinson, BRC chief executive, said: “In some parts of the country the number of empty shops remains worryingly high and act merely as a blot on landscape of local communities. And while the overall the rate has tended to remain around 9 to 10% since July 2015, the variation between successful and vulnerable locations grows ever wider.”
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