Shoppers shun high street and shopping centres

Cut backs in non-essentials

British shoppers are shunning high streets and shopping centres after footfall fell for the fourth consecutive month.

Figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) showed that the high streets were the hardest hit with a 2.1 per cent drop in the number of shoppers, while shopping centres saw a 1.3 per cent fall.

The BRC said the drop was due to consumers a cutting back spending on ‘non-essential items’ and non-food items had suffered weak sales as a result.

However, retail parks have seen an increase in footfall of 1.7 per cent which is in part thanks to ‘convenience for shoppers’ and ‘lower rental costs compared to prime and town centre locations’, the BRC said.

Shop vacancy rate is now at its highest for a year, nearly one in 10 retail shops are currently empty and those in some vulnerable communities remain persistently empty, limiting the chances of these places to thrive.

Helen Dickinson Chief-Executive of BRC said: “Most shopping destinations saw a decline in footfall in July compared with the previous year. Even high streets, which have seen fairly stable growth over recent months, reported a decline.

“The overall decline in footfall translated into weak sales performance for stores in non-food particularly, which fell further into negative territory as consumers rein back spending on non-essential items.”

“The vacancy rate, now at its highest for a year, fails to brighten the picture for what was evidently a challenging month for retailers.”

Diane Wehrle Springboard Marketing and Insights Director said July’s results mark a ‘sea change in consumers’ willingness to spend as it was the first time since January that footfall dropped during both retail trading hours and into the evening. 

“Over the last few months the growing importance of the leisure based trip has become a key part of the narrative when talking about retail destinations, but a -0.5 per cent drop in footfall post 5pm in July is the first evidence of a tightening of purse strings on casual dining and leisure trips,” she said.

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