High street gets the cold shoulder in December

Footfall declined throughout December as consumers favoured online shopping over high street stores.

According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor, footfall was down 2.2% in December compared to the same period last year.

This was marginally lower than the 2.1% decline in November, under-performing the three-month average rate of -1.6%.

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High street and shopping centres saw the steepest decline, with visitor numbers falling 4% and 2% respectively.

However, out-of-town retail parks saw a 2.1% year-on-year increase in footfall.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “Shopper footfall shrivelled once again last month and at a faster rate than compared to the three-month average. December was the ninth consecutive month in which shopper footfall has declined, with high streets in particular but also shopping malls continuing to fare poorly. In contrast retail parks once again witnessed footfall growth.

“Retailers are having to revamp their businesses in order to respond to the profound changes in the way we are all shopping.”

Dickinson continued: “This trading environment should also be considered with the impact of the industry’s regulatory burden. BRC analysis shows that the combined cost of policy announcements since the General Election adds up to approximately £14 billion over the next five years. The industry will continue to make the case to government, which has extended its review of business rates to early 2016, to properly look at rebalancing this tax away from property intensive industries in order to ensure that the introduction of the living wage does not have unintended consequences on our local communities and jobs.”

Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard, added: “The surge in online spending in December clearly impacted heavily on traditional urban retail destinations. The catalyst was the plethora of online discounts on Black Friday which then continued throughout December.”

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