DATA: UK footfall declines for third consecutive month

UK footfall declined once again in September as many retailers failed to attract shoppers with the right mix of products, experience and convenience.

According to the latest BRC – Springboard Footfall and Vacancies monitor, overall footfall decreased by 1.2% year-on-year, the same decrease as in August, in line with the three-month rolling average of -1.2% and below the 12-month rolling average of -0.4%.

High street footfall declined by 2.2% in September, a smaller decline than August’s 2.6%.

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Shopping centres showed a further decline of 1.0%, a slightly bigger decrease than in August which registered a decrease of 0.8%.

Retail parks still saw positive growth, but reduced to 1.1% from 1.6% in August, a 0.5 percentage point reduction.

The East was the only region to see increased growth in September, of 1.9%, and the only region to show high street growth of 0.4 %. Also, this month is the 10th consecutive month of growth for this region.

Overall, the deepest decline in footfall in September occurred in Northern Ireland (4.3%) and the South West (2.4%). Greater London decline slowed to 0.9% from 2.0% in August.

Scotland recorded its biggest decline at 2% since June 2016.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said there’s an “urgent need” to stall the growing number of retail locations, particularly in more vulnerable parts of the country, falling further and further behind by attracting shoppers to retail destinations with the right mix of products, experience and convenience.

But she warned that the growing cost of doing business leaves “little to no wiggle room” for investment in their store proposition.

“With September’s RPI [Retail Price Index] expected to be at least four per cent meaning retailers’ business rates bills will surge by quarter of a billion pounds in 2018, the prospect of a further investment sapping rise is deeply worrying and will only serve to make things tougher on the high street,” Dickinson explained.

“In his Budget next month, the Chancellor has an opportunity to offer local communities and high streets some much needed respite from risks to local shops and jobs by scrapping next year’s rise in business rates.”

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