High Street footfall decline pauses in July
Written by Peter Walker
Footfall fell by 0.8 per cent in July, in line with last month’s decline of 0.9 per cent and a decline of 1.1 per cent last July, according to the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) figures.
High Streets saw growth of 0.3 per cent, the third month of consecutive growth. Footfall in retail parks declined by 0.5 per cent in comparison to July 2017, when footfall increased by 1.7 per cent.
Footfall in shopping centres fell by 3.4 per cent in July, a deeper decrease compared to the 1.3 per cent decrease in July 2017.
Only two regions saw footfall growth in July – the West Midlands (1.6 per cent, now two consecutive months growth) and Scotland (0.5 per cent).
The national town centre vacancy rate was 9.2 per cent in July, unchanged from April and down from 9.6 per cent last July. Most regions remain largely unchanged since April, with the most improved region being West Midlands, down to now 10.2 per cent from 11.8 per cent in April.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive at the BRC, said the hot, dry weather in July turned consumers’ attentions to eating, drinking and enjoying the outdoors.
“That provided a small lift for high streets as shoppers popped out to grab food, drink and fans to keep cool. However, the heat sapped shoppers’ stamina for longer trips with both retail parks and shopping centres seeing footfall sink,” she explained.
“Aside from short-term weather impacts, there’s no escaping the fact that retail is changing. With fewer people visiting physical stores and fewer purchases being made there, at the same time as costs are going up year on year, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing many retailers reduce their store portfolios,” Dickinson continued.
“As shops close we need new businesses to emerge to reinvent the nation’s high streets, but that cannot happen if the burden of business rates they face continues to rise year on year, which is why we’re calling for a freeze in business rates in the chancellor’s next budget.”