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High street sales down last month

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Research published by the British Retail Consortium at the end of last week revealed that high street footfall dropped 4% in November, even with the Black Friday and Cyber Monday bonanza taken into consideration.

The figures show that footfall for the month was down by 2.4% compared to the same time last year. The biggest decline came on the high street, where shopper numbers had fallen by 4%, shopping centres also saw a decrease in visitors, 2.1% less to be exact, while retail parks saw 0.8% more.

Retailers are being forced to go into sales early and continue offering promotions and the findings from the BRC and Springboard mark the shift towards online shopping.

Director General for the BRC Helen Dickinson said:

“Despite these figures, we know that retail sales for the same period remain strong – and this is not due solely to the increasing popularity of online shopping. “Whereas once multiple shopping trips for a few items and leisurely browsing were the norm, now increasingly savvy shoppers are streamlining their visits to stores when making non-food purchases. The most successful shopping destinations are ensuring that they have a range of other experiences and activities on offer to drive up footfall.”

Diane Wehrle, Retail Insights Director at Springboard also commented:

‘’Yet again it is high streets and shopping centres that are driving the decline in footfall, whilst footfall in retail parks remains positive, albeit a smaller rise than in previous months.

“The results clearly indicate that the structural shift in consumer activity brought about by the internet is ongoing, and that it is largely out-of-town locations that are continuing to capitalise on this change.

However, it needs to be recognised that retail parks started from a much lower base than that for either high streets or shopping centres, and there increasing attractive to shoppers is compounded by the benefit of free car parking.

If retailers are to encourage shoppers back into bricks-and-mortar stores then there needs to be a greater focus on the enhancement of the customer experience, rather than a knee-jerk reaction towards discounting, which only undermines margins and long-term profitability.’’

Published on Monday 15 December by Veebs Sabharwal

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