Monday 16 September 2019

High street footfall declines again as Brits pick retail parks

Consumer confidence is thought to be holding back shopper numbers.

Shopper numbers are falling in Britain’s high streets (PA)
Shopper numbers are falling in Britain’s high streets (PA)

By Alys Key, PA City Reporter

Visits to Britain’s high streets continued to decline over August, as nervous consumers reined back spending.

Footfall to British shopping locations was down 1.3% overall last month, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard.

The high street saw a decline of 1.9%, compared with a 2% drop in the same month last year.

Meanwhile, shopping centres experienced the most severe dip in visitors, with a decline of 2.2%.

Only retail parks managed to attract more consumers, with footfall rising by 1%.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said the downward trajectory was due to “increasingly cautious consumers” who are “holding back on discretionary spending”.

“There is little sign that the stresses on retail will abate any time soon. Stuck between weak demand thanks to Brexit uncertainty, and rising costs resulting from business rates and other public policy costs, many retailers are clearly struggling,” she said.

“The Government should take the opportunity to reduce the heavy cost burden holding back retail investment.”

However, August had the strongest footfall of the summer months, partly due to the hot weather over the Bank Holiday.

Diane Wehrle, Springboard’s marketing and insights director, said although consumer confidence is currently weak, the overall decline has been evident for over a decade.

“We must remember that declining footfall is a long term trend with annual increases being the exception rather than the rule,” she said.

“Indeed, footfall has declined in every year since Springboard started publishing its national data in January 2009.”

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