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High Street

August footfall down 1.6% despite some retail park growth

Retail footfall dropped by 1.6% in August despite seeing rare retail park growth in the East and South West of the UK.

The figures are according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard’s footfall and vacancies monitor with August seeing a sharper decline than the 0.8% experienced in July, which the BRC said is due to the rising food inflation reducing the number of non-essential purchases and therefore shopping trips made by the public.

The three months of growth came to an end in August for the high street which recorded a decline of 2.0%. Northern Ireland was the only region to show growth, at 1.4%. The East, South West and East Midlands all saw further decline with 5.0% 3.8% and 3.7% respectively.

The monitor found that retail parks performed strongly for all but three regions: North & Yorkshire, East Midlands and London. The East and South West showed the strongest growth with 5.1% and 4.0%.

Shopping centres continued to see year on year falls, but at a decelerated rate as footfall fell by 2.4%, less of a decline than July’s 3.4% fall. August however is now the 17th month of consecutive decline.

Helen Dickinson, CEO at the British Retail Consortium, said:  “British high streets experienced a quiet August this year as the continued squeeze on wages kept consumers away from the shops. With fewer shoppers visiting the high street and a difficult overall trading environment the pressure is increasing on retailers as rising public policy costs continue to bite.

“The Government must take action now and commit to a two year freeze on business rates to help reduce the pressure of this disproportionate tax on retailers and allow for a fundamental reform of the business taxation system.”

Diane Wehrle, Springboard marketing and insights director, added: “The drop in footfall of -1.6% in August is the worst result since April. Given the sweltering temperatures during what has been the hottest summer on record, it is not surprising that visits to shopping destinations declined further as consumers made the most of the weather elsewhere.

“This mainly occurred in the latter half of the month when footfall declined by -2% compared with just – 0.9% in the first two weeks of August. Whilst it was a bit cooler (although mainly in the last week of the month while the third week still hot), most summer purchases are likely to have been made in June and July.”

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