BRC Vacancies Monitor results: “There’s no escaping the fact that retail is changing”

retail sales monitor

The British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) Footfall and Vacancies Monitor with Springboard found footfall fell by 0.8 per cent for July, for a third consecutive monthly decline.

July’s footfall in retail parks fell by 0.5 per cent year-on-year, while footfall at shopping centres fell by 3.4 per cent, which BRC noted was a much deeper decrease than the 1.3 per cent decline recorded in July 2017.

Only two regions saw footfall growth in July, with West Midlands recording a 1.6 per cent rise and Scotland by 0.5 per cent.

However, the hot weather and beginning on the summer holidays boosted high street footfall by 0.3 per cent, making it the third month of consecutive growth, although the BRC noted July 2017’s comparables of a 2.1 per cent drop were not difficult to beat.

“The hot, dry weather in July turned consumers’ attentions to eating, drinking and enjoying the outdoors,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson noted.

“That provided a small lift for high streets as shoppers popped out to grab food, drink and fans to keep cool. However, the heat sapped shoppers’ stamina for longer trips with both retail parks and shopping centres seeing footfall sink,” she said.

Springboard and BRC’s results found the national town vacancy rate stood at 9.2 per cent in July, unchanged from April this year.

The results left the BRC re-asserting its battle for lower business rates for the high street.

“Aside from short-term weather impacts, there’s no escaping the fact that retail is changing,” Dickinson said on Tuesday.

“With fewer people visiting physical stores and fewer purchases being made there, at the same time as costs are going up year on year, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing many retailers reduce their store portfolios.”

“As shops close we need new businesses to emerge to reinvent the nation’s high streets. But that cannot happen if the burden of business rates they face continues to rise year on year, which is why we’re calling for a freeze in business rates in the Chancellor’s next Budget,” Dickinson added.

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