Retail parks are saving grace for August footfall

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Footfall dropped by 1.6 per cent in August across the nation’s high streets, shopping centres and retail parks.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard’s footfall and vacancies monitor said shoppers were cutting back on non-essential purchases due to food inflation, resulting in a reduction in the number of shopping trips across the board.

The results, which covered July 29th to August 25th, also reflected what BRC and Springboard said is a “long-term downward trend of fewer trips to physical shopping locations, as more of our spending shifts online”.

Three months of high street footfall growth came to an end in August with a decline of 2.0 per cent, with Northern Ireland the only region to report an increase, up 1.4 per cent.

Retail parks were one of the only positive finds for the report, which found The east and south west reporting a 5.1 per cent and 4.0 per cent growth respectively.

Shopping centre footfall continued to drop, but at a decelerate rate, down 2.4 per cent for August against 3.4 per cent in July.

“British high streets experienced a quiet August this year as the continued squeeze on wages kept consumers away from the shops,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said in light of the results.

“With fewer shoppers visiting the high street and a difficult overall trading environment the pressures is increasing on retailers as rising public policy costs continue to bite.

“The Government must take action now and commit to a two year freeze on business rates to help reduce the pressure of this disproportionate tax on retailers and allow for a fundamental reform of the business taxation system,” she added.

The news comes as BDO’s monthly high street sales tracker indicated that UK high street sales fell by 2.7 per cent year-on-year – the worst August decline for three years and one of the worst Augusts since records began in 2006.

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