High-street footfall declined by 0.6 per cent year-on-year as consumers preferred to shop at out-of-town locations and shopping centres.
Monthly figures from the BRC/Springboard Monitor, which records over 60 million footfall counts per week in the UK, showed high-street footfall dropped 2.7 per cent over the busy November 2013 – January 2014 period, yet overall footfall rose 1.6 per cent – its strongest showing since December 2011.
The most improved footfall figures, the number of people entering a shop or shopping area in a given time, was in out-of-town centres which surged 5.7 per cent due to the popularity of outlet stores such as McArthurGlenn. Shopping centre footfall rose 2.4 per cent following a flat average from November 2013 – January 2014.
Greater London reported the greatest increase in regional footfall, up 3.2 per cent year-on-year, while the East Midlands reported a 2.9 per cent y-o-y rise, Scotland dipped 1.8 per cent and Northern Ireland dropped 2 per cent.
There was a drop in the shop vacancy rate from 11.1 per cent to 11.0 per cent; indicating a degree of optimism about future trading conditions.
Explaining the figures, Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium Director General, said: “It’s good news for retailers and it helps to explain the rise in sales we reported earlier in the month, demonstrating that UK shoppers were enthusiastically checking out the promotions available during the sales season.”
Diane Wehrle, Retail Insights Director at Springboard, said it was encouraging to see a footfall rise following a “challenging Christmas trading period” for retailers.
“This result demonstrates that whilst the growth of online retailing continues apace, retail destinations remain attractive to shoppers and that retailers’ approach in delivering a multichannel offer is the right one,” she said. “At the same time, however, all of the annual increase in footfall was driven by visits to shopping centres and particularly to retail parks, rather than to high streets.”