Footfall drops despite fall in shop vacancy rate

UK retail footfall was down year on year in July, falling 0.6%, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

The trend comes despite the shop vacancy rate in the country’s town centres recording its best performance in three years.

High streets reported the largest decline in footfall, falling 1.7%, consistent with the decline in June, while shopping centres experienced a 0.5% in footfall, up on the 1.2% fall in June.

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Footfall in out-of-town locations fared the best with a 1.7% increase year-on-year.

Bizarrely, the national town vacancy rate in the UK was 10.1% in July, a decrease from April’s rate of 10.6%.

The proportion in London is even lower, with just 7% of stores empty, fewer than any other region of the country.

BRC director Helen Dickinson commented: "These results are a mixed bag, with footfall easing downwards in July but with the shop vacancy rate recording its best performance since our records began in July 2011.

"The reduction in the shop vacancy rate for the third successive quarter is heartening, with the vacancy rate at its lowest level since our records began in July 2011. However it is still the case that every tenth shop remains unoccupied.

“This reinforces the need for a fundamental overhaul of commercial property taxes, which would increase retailers’ confidence about investing in new or existing retail premises and thus help rejuvenate our high streets,” she added.

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