Shopping centre operator Hammerson saw a 0.4 per cent year-on-year increase in footfall across its UK shopping centres in 2017, outperforming the industry benchmark which saw a drop of 2.8 per cent.
However, retail sales in 2017 decreased 2.6 per cent year-on-year in the UK, and for the month of December, store sales fell 1.3 per cent – although this was still better than the market average of a decline of 2.7 per cent.
Sales of sports fashion were up 1.8 per cent year-on-year, while menswear sales were up 3.8 per cent compared to 2016.
Leisure was the star performer, with sales up 6.9 per cent in the UK as shoppers continued to opt experience-led shopping trips.
Meanwhile, across its French portfolio footfall was up 1.6 per cent year-on-year in 2017, and sales increased a marginal 0.1 per cent year-on-year and 0.5 per cent during December.
In total, Hammerson welcomed more than 300 million visitors to all of its European shopping centres last year, with footfall outperforming the market benchmark every month.
The volume of leasing at Hammerson shopping centres also rose in every region, and was up 34 per cent in total compared with 2016.
“Consumers are spending more discerningly; exciting brands are winning market share; and footfall is drawn to centres which offer the full line-up of retail brands alongside entertainment,” Hammerson chief executive David Atkins said.
“It is no coincidence that we have purposely positioned our shopping centres to respond to these trends, dedicating our time to carefully curating the right brands, adding more leisure space and creating an engaging environment for consumers.
“Our strategy is aligned with that of retailers and we have continued to see strong momentum in leasing in Q4 as we will update in February.”
Hammerson owns shopping centres like the Bullring in Birmingham, Bicester Village, Cabot Circus in Bristol, Victoria Gate in Leeds, Westquay in Southampton and Brent Cross in north London.
Late last year, it announced a £3.4 billion merger with competitor Intu, which is set to create one of the UK’s biggest property companies.