Thursday, September 20, 2018

High street shopping suffered a 2.2 per cent drop in September compared to last year, according to new figures. 

The British Retail Consortium and retail footfall analyst Springboard compared high street shopping with shopping centres and retail parks. The data found high street footfall to be in sharpest decline, followed by shopping centres.

Shopping centres felt a drop of 1.0 per cent, slightly higher than August’s decrease of 0.8 per cent.

Overall footfall numbers were down by 1.2 per cent since August, with a decrease across all regions of the UK, except for the East of England which saw an increased growth in September of 1.9 per cent: the tenth consecutive month-on-month growth for the region.

This decrease in footfall across the country was in line with the three-month rolling average decline of 1.2 per cent – although below the 12-month average of 0.4 per cent, and well below the decline in August of 2.6 per cent.

Across the UK, Northern Ireland saw the greatest decline in overall footfall at 4.3 per cent, followed by the South-west at 2.4 per cent. Scotland recorded its biggest decline since June 2016, at 2.0 per cent.

Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard, said of the decline in high street footfall figures: “Much is often made about the impact of weather, but with similar weather conditions to September 2016, this cannot be put forward as a driver.  

“Aggressive early season sales indicate retailers are spooked, and they will be on edge with the six-week countdown now on to the start of the festive shopping season.”

However, retail parks had a positive growth in footfall at 1.1 per cent – although this was less than August’s 1.6 per cent. Nevertheless, overall retail park shopping increased compared to last year. 

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “For the third consecutive month, most shopping destinations suffered a decline. Retail parks continued to buck the trend, attracting more visitors than the previous year, but the opposite was true for high streets.

“There’s an urgent need to stall the growing number of retail locations, particularly in more vulnerable parts of the country.”

Ms Dickinson added that in next month’s Budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond has “an opportunity to offer local communities and high streets some much needed respite from risks to local shops and jobs, by scrapping next year’s rise in business rates”.