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December high street footfall rises for first time in five years

There was good news for the high street in December as footfall rose by 0.8% compared with the same period last year.

The growth on the high street last month bucked a negative trend, under which total footfall fell by 0.2%.

Shopper numbers were down 0.7% in retail parks and 1.9% in shopping centres, figures compiled by Springboard in association with the British Retail Consortium revealed.

Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard, said “the supposition of the death of the high street has been greatly exaggerated.”

“The shift in consumer demand from focusing on the purchase of physical goods to encompass experiences has clearly benefited the high street, as its offer has been able to transition quickly via an improved food and beverage offer, which has helped to bring in much needed footfall.”

However, Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, added: “Solid festive sales did not translate into a lift in [overall] footfall above last year as online continues to grab the lion’s share of growth. Ecommerce accounted for nearly a quarter of all purchases in December, suggesting that more shoppers than ever opted to go online rather than hit the shops.”

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