Retail footfall declines in April as vacancy rate reaches highest level in four years
New figures have shown that UK retail footfall edged down by 0.5% in April compared to the same month last year.
The British Retail Consortium and Springboard’s monthly footfall and vacancies monitor reveals that high street footfall declined by 1% while shopping centre footfall fell by 2.1%. In contrast, footfall in retail parks increased by 2.2%.
Diane Wehrle, Springboard marketing and insights director, said: “There is an obvious distortion in the year on year footfall results for April due to the early Easter in March last year. However, the expected bounty as a result of Easter occurring in April this year did not provide enough of a boost to deliver positive figures for the month, with footfall still -0.5% lower than April last year.”
The figures also show that the national town centre vacancy rate was 10.2% in April. This was up from the previous quarter’s rate of 9.9%.
Helen Dickinson, BRC chief executive, said: “With regular reports of shop closures, it may come as no surprise that town centre vacancy rates rose to their highest level in four years. Empty shopfronts, particularly for larger stores, can deter shoppers from an area, decreasing footfall for all those around.
“This effect can be cyclical, with the long-term decline in footfall pushing up vacancy rates, particularly in poorer areas. Furthermore, the cumulative impact of Government policy costs – from spiralling business rates to the Apprenticeship Levy and more – have also made physical space less cost effective.”
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