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High street footfall declines again

News, 21 July 2015
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LONDON: British high street retailers have further unwelcome evidence of shifting consumer behaviour as new data reveals footfall declined by almost 3% in June.

According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), the industry trade body, and data consultants Springboard, high street footfall was down -2.8% last month compared with the same period last year.

Shopping centres also suffered, seeing a decline of -2.4% year-on-year, although overall retail footfall in the UK declined by -1.5% in June largely because out-of-town retail parks fared reasonably well, Retail Bulletin reported.

Retail parks, which are attracting more "click and collect" shoppers, reported a +2.8% rise in footfall, the 18th successive month in which the sector's footfall has increased.

Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard, said this was "clear evidence that it is still possible to drive up the volume of customers to bricks and mortar stores" as long as retailers continue to improve the quality of their offer.

She added that the overall drop in footfall of -1.5% did not appear to be "hugely detrimental", but "it belies the long term decline in the attractiveness of urban retail destinations to shoppers".

After breaking down the national figures to the regional level, the report found that Northern Ireland and Wales had notable declines in footfall of -3.5% and -3% respectively while South East England also fell a significant -3.1%.

Commenting on how the UK retail landscape is changing, BRC director general Helen Dickinson, said: "The fundamental shift in the way people are shopping seems to be driving the sustained reduction in shopper numbers to both high streets and shopping centres.

"This is a clear demonstration that the reinvention of the high street is far from complete. The process of creating multi-use destinations in the heart of our towns and cities needs to continue in earnest if people are going to be drawn back to the high street.

"This has happened in some areas, but the energy and effort behind sharing best practice needs to be redoubled."

Data sourced from Retail Bulletin, Telegraph; additional content by Warc staff

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