Trade Resources Industry Trends July Sees More Shops But Fewer Shoppers

July Sees More Shops But Fewer Shoppers

Retail footfall in July was 1.1% lower than a year ago, up from the 1.5% fall in June and slightly above the three-month average of -1.2%, according to the BRC/Springboard Footfall Monitor for July 2015.

High streets and shopping centres reported a decline, falling 2.2% and 2.5% respectively. Footfall in retail park locations fared best, with a 3.1% increase year-on-year – the highest figure since May 2014, excluding Easter distortions. Greater London was the only region to report positive footfall growth.

The national town centre vacancy rate was 9.8% in July 2015, down from the 10.2% rate reported in April 2015. This is the lowest reported rate since the data reports began in July 2011.

Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium director general, says: “Today’s figures contain interesting news for the UK’s retail industry. The continued popularity of retail parks will cheer retailers who have invested in these locations – a footfall increase of 3.1% is the highest we’ve seen since May 2014. The fall in shop vacancy rates to below 10% for the first time since this monitor began will also be welcomed, albeit cautiously.

“For years, structural changes within retail have been challenging the role of the ‘traditional’ high street. Many high streets up and down the country have been working to meet these challenges by reshaping themselves (in some cases becoming smaller) and working hard to establish their own unique offer as well integrating it with a digital presence. Despite this the vacancy rate has remained stubbornly high – the dip below 10% for the first time may be indicative of successful attempts to reshape Britain’s high streets in some locations.

“The clear note of caution though can be found in the footfall figures. No matter how successful high streets are in re-inventing themselves, if they can’t deliver increased footfall we could easily see vacancy rates climbing again. It’s worth noting that the footfall decline has slowed this month, but it still has a way to go. So today’s numbers seem to indicate that some British high streets are beginning to solve their space problem, but have yet to capitalise on this and drive up shopper numbers. This is a delicate balancing act and could easily be derailed. Reducing the burden of business rates would give high street operators the opportunity they need to allow more of them to finally flourish.”

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