By Sarah Louise Jordan
A report by the British Retail Consortium has shown that overall footfall fell by 1.2% in January 2015 compared to January 2014, with shopping centres taking the brunt of the decline.
Overall footfall fell by 1.2% in January, staying broadly in line with the 1.4% average decline experienced from November 2014 to January 2015.
Shopping centre footfall fell by 2.8%, making the average decline in retail visits from November to January 1.5%. High Streets also took a hit with rates falling by 1.6% in January compared to the previous year.
The only area to show increases in January was out-of-town retail locations, which rose by 1.5%.
The UK town centre vacancy rate was revealed to be 10.4%, with Wales reporting the greatest fall in regional footfall down 4.6% year-on-year. The East and South East performed strongly, up 1.2% and 1% respectively, with shop vacancy rates also defying the UK average in these areas.
Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium director general, said: “It has been heartening to see that footfall is up 1.5% on January last year for out-of-town retail destinations. This reflects strong consumer confidence – more of us are happier to splash out on big ticket items, particularly furniture, which we usually travel out of town to view and buy.
“January is traditionally strong for online sales and this year was no exception. This has undoubtedly impacted on footfall for high streets and shopping centres and is further evidence of the impact of our changing shopping habits.
“Rising numbers of vacant shop units are still a cause for concern. We have welcomed the government’s pledge to review business rates on our recommendation however in order to make a real difference the review will need to be wide in scope and seek radical solutions.”