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High streets continue to suffer despite more shops

Footfall to high streets and shopping centres continued to fall in July, while retail parks attracted the highest numbers since May last year.

High streets and shopping centres reported an annual decline of 2.2% and 2.5%, respectively, compared to a 3.1% increase for retail parks, according to the BRC Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor.

However the national town centre vacancy rate was 9.8% last month, which is the lowest rate since the report began in July 2011 and down from 10.2% in April this year.

“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,” said Helen Dickinson, director general of the British Retail Consortium. “It’s worth noting that the footfall decline has slowed this month, but it still has a way to go.”

She said the numbers seemed to indicate that British high streets are beginning to solve their space problem but have yet to 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,” she added.

Greater London was the only region to report positive footfall growth of 0.4%. Footfall in Northern Ireland and Wales fell by 4.5% and 4.4% in July, respectively, while it was unchanged in Scotland at 2.4%.


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