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Reinvention of high street ‘far from complete’ as footfall declines

Footfall to high streets and shopping centres fell 2.8% and 2.4% respectively in June, according to data collated by research firm Springboard and the British Retail Consortium.

Overall, footfall to shopping destinations fell 1.5% during the five weeks to July 4, compared to the same month last year. The decline on the high street was partly offset by an increase in the number of people shopping in retail parks, up 2.8%.

Northern Ireland and Wales fared the worst overall, with footfall down 3.5% and 3% respectively.

BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: “Retail parks have seen another increase in shopper numbers this month, which is good news for the retailers operating in these areas. However, the fundamental shift in the way people are shopping seems to be driving the sustained reduction in shopper numbers to both high streets and shopping centres.

“This is a clear demonstration that the reinvention of the high street is far from complete. The process of creating multi-use destinations in the heart of our towns and cities needs to continue in earnest if people are going to be drawn back to the high street. This has happened in some areas, but the energy and effort behind sharing best practice needs to be redoubled.”

Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard, added: “On the surface, an overall drop in footfall of 1.5% does not appear to be hugely detrimental. However, it belies the long-term decline in the attractiveness of urban retail destinations to shoppers. The drop in footfall in high streets in shopping centres is undoubtedly a function of the continuing dilution of shopper numbers through online trading.

“At the same time, however, the rise in footfall in retail parks in June – the 18th successive month in which footfall has increased – is clear evidence that it is still possible to drive up the volume of customers to bricks-and-mortar stores, albeit in part this is a function of owner driven improvements in their quality and offer.”

@KirstyMcGregor

Readers' comments (2)

  • Footfall in high streets will continue to fall for the simple reason that you don't have to shop there.

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  • It is so expensive to park in towns that people are deserting high streets and going where they can park easily and for nothing. As your other article in this issue shows, if parking meters are "broken", footfall increases. How about looking at limited free parking - free for two hours perhaps. Then you would see more people visiting and enjoying an urban renewal.

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