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Shopping centre footfall rises for first time in three years

Consumers were “attracted back” to shopping centres in January, according to Springboard’s latest footfall monitor.

Shopping centre footfall increased by 0.2% against the year prior, which was the first month with an increase since March 2017, and the third month in a four-year period when footfall rose.

Meanwhile, footfall in high streets fell by 1.8%. Overall retail footfall fell by only 0.5% in January against the year prior, signalling “some stability” for bricks-and-mortar stores.

The data group said that this figure was “reinforced” by an improvement in shop vacancies, which were the lowest for a year at 9.8%, against the rate of 9.9% in January 2019.

Footfall in retail parks also rose by 1.4% year-on-year during the period. Springboard said  this reflected an “ability to bridge the gap between functionality and experience”.

Diane Wehrle, Springboard marketing and insights director, said: “January was the first month since March 2017, and only the third month in four years, that footfall in shopping centres rose; and whilst a rise of 0.2% is only a modest increase it brings some much needed hope for this destination type that has consistently lost shoppers for over two years. 

“It seems that this is an early sign that the regeneration schemes long planned by owners to broaden the offer of malls to incorporate a greater experiential element, particularly in the larger malls, are working and they now better reflect consumers demands.”

She added: “It is likely that this is part of the reason why footfall in high streets declined by 1.8% in January, as consumers were attracted back into shopping centres, and is further illustrated by the contrast in footfall post 8pm which rose by 3% in shopping centres whilst declining by 1.3% in high streets.”

“Whilst the gestation period for shopping centre investment may be a long one, once the chess pieces are finally in place a single owner is often more readily able deliver meaningful change than a high street, which can be weighed down by a multiplicity of owners all of whom have varying objectives and aspirations for their particular asset.”

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