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High street footfall drops in July

Footfall in July dipped by 1.1% on last year in the four weeks to 29 July 2017, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard footfall and vacancies monitor indicates.

This rates below a three-month rolling average of 0.4% growth in footfall and a 12-month average dip of 0.2%.

High street footfall fell 2.1% year-on-year. Meanwhile, footfall at shopping centres dropped by 1.3%, marking the fourth consecutive month of decline.

However, retail parks bucked the trend after growing by 1.7%.

Regionally, the south-west and greater London recorded the steepest decline in footfall in July – both showed a 2.1% fall.

Wales showed the first decline in seven months: a dip of 0.9%. In Scotland, meanwhile, there was a further decline from -0.2% in the previous month to -0.4% in July.

The east and south-east were the only two regions that recorded footfall growth in July: the east has now posted eight months of footfall growth.

On the other end of the spectrum, the East Midlands showed the fastest decline on the high street, at 4.7%.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson noted that non-food suffered “weak sales performance”, while consumers continue to “rein back spending on non-essential items”.

Dickinson said: “The vacancy rate, now at its highest for a year, fails to brighten the picture for what was evidently a challenging month for retailers. Nearly one in 10 retail shops currently lie vacant and those in some vulnerable communities remain persistently empty, limiting the chances of these places to thrive.”

She added that retail parks have fared relatively well since March this year, reflecting in part lower rental costs compared to prime and town centre locations as well as convenience for shoppers”.

Springboard marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle added: “July’s results might well mark a sea change in consumers’ willingness to spend, as it was the first time since January that footfall dropped during both retail trading hours and into the evening.

“Declining footfall demonstrates that the fall in non-food sales is due to a reduced number of shoppers, so retailers that maintain their in-store footfall are at a clear advantage. Despite a drop in fashion sales, consumers increased their spending on products for the home, and out-of-town locations are the beneficiaries.”

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