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Shopping Mall

Retail Parks see increased footfall, but High Streets & shopping centres down

Latest figures have revealed that total UK shopper footfall dropped by 1.6 per cent year-on-year in January.

The British Retail Consortium & Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor also revealed that all regions saw a drop in footfall in January, with the sharpest declines seen in Scotland (4.6%), the South West (2.6%) and the East (2.5%).

High Street footfall fell by 1.9% in January, a deeper decline than seen the same month a year ago. However, footfall in Retail Parks grew by 0.9%, but Shopping Centre footfall fell by 3.1%.

Meanwhile, the national town centre vacancy rate was 8.9% in January, down from 9.3% in October 2017.

“January painted a picture of divided fortunes with a slight improvement in town vacancy rates but decline in shopper footfall, said the British Retail Consortium’s chief executive Helen Dickinson OBE. “The latter fell in line with the underlying trend of reduced customer activity in shopping destinations, compounded by the squeeze on discretionary spending. Meanwhile retail sales continue to be buoyed by inflation, masking the lack of real growth.

“The more positive picture for vacancy rates over the last quarter is marginal. The Christmas trading period traditionally sees a boost in temporary lets, as landlords get creative with the flexible use of space to create pop-ups. This was particularly evident in London this year due to its denser physical retail offer. The long term trend is that vacancies remain stubbornly at around 9 per cent, albeit much higher in many areas.

“If we look beyond the seasonal distortion, the pressures to rationalise and downsize store portfolios are continuing to build as structural and technological change gains momentum. Given that planning applications for new shops have fallen for the ninth year in a row, the mounting cost of property taxation will inevitably mean more empty shops on the high street.

“Retailing is about digital and face to face interactions with customers and how the different channels complement each other. Having a business tax system that works to support that, not undermine it, is what the country needs and what we remain committed to work in partnership with Government to deliver.”

Diane Wehrle, Springboard Marketing and Insights Director, added: “A drop in footfall of -1.6% is an improvement on December’s -3.5%, but it is the worst result for January since 2013.  So it is clear that the challenges facing bricks and mortar retailing are continuing to build – the -1.9% decline in high street footfall is more than double the -0.8% in January 2017 and shopping centre footfall continues to languish at -3.1% following a drop of -3% in January last year.

“In contrast activity in retail parks continues to grow, with a shift in footfall from -0.4% in January 2017 to +0.9% this January; despite furniture and household appliance sales in January being the worst of all 13 categories.  Retail parks clearly now fulfil a wider role for shoppers; yes, they are convenient and functional shopping locations, but are buoyed by the continuing growth in online spending. Not only are they efficient click and collect points, but their attraction is enhanced by a wider offer, embracing hospitality. Herein lies the lesson for stores in urban locations of high streets and shopping centres; their longevity is contingent upon their ability to embrace all steps of consumers’ path to purchase, which implicitly necessitates a first class click and collect experience.

“Whilst footfall dropped, the vacancy rate strengthened over the quarter to 8.9% from 9.3% in October, but caution is needed in reading too much into this as it reflects short term occupier demand in the lead up to Christmas and is a trend that replicates previous years.”


New figures reveal 2017 retail footfall ends on a slump

New figures compiled by analytics firm Springboard have revealed that retail footfall across the UK decreased by 3.5% year-on-year in December, the steepest decline since March 2013 when footfall declined by 5.2%.

The drop, the steepest decline in almost five years, has been put down to a number of factors, including stagnant wages and a jump in inflation.

“The drop in footfall of -3.3% in the weeks leading up to Christmas provided a heads-up for December, with the final outcome of -3.5% of little surprise,” commented Diane Wehrle, director of marketing and insights at Springboard.

“This is a significant weakening in performance from December 2016 when footfall in retail destinations dropped by just 0.2 per cent.”

Responding to the figures, Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive, British Retail Consortium, said:

“The sharp drop in footfall this December, while sales grew overall, underlines how shopping is being transformed by the shift to online.

“In the past, shoppers would have exclusively visited physical stores to ensure stockings were filled for Christmas. Improved delivery options by both purely digital retailers and those with stores and an online offer mean many purchases of last minute gifts are moving online.

“The squeeze on discretionary spending also contributed to the decline in footfall. Households had to use their money more carefully, researching products online, rather than heading out to stores to browse.

“Retail parks fared slightly better than high streets by providing Christmas shoppers with the draw and convenience of parking, easy click-and-collect, and leisure facilities.”


April retail footfall boosted by Easter shopping

Figures released by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Springboard Footfall & Vacancies Monitor revealed a 1.6% growth in footfall in April compared to 2016, above the average three-month growth of 0.7% and the fastest growth month in shopper numbers for three years.

The news comes after a difficult March trading period, which saw retail sales drop 1.0% from March 2016.

The April figures mark the first positive quarter since May 2014, with consumer spending dropping in the 10 months since Britain voted for Brexit and the average consumer feeling the impacts of rising inflation. However, the April figure is likely to be distorted due to the late timing of Easter this year.

“As expected, the Easter holidays provided the welcome boost to retail sales, which goes some way to making up for the disappointing start to the year,” Helen Dickinson, the BRC’s chief executive said.

“The inclusion of the holidays in this period will have distorted this figure but even looking beyond this, the picture over the last quarter has been largely positive.”

Paul Lewis, senior director of marketing at Voucher Codes and RetailMeNot urged retailers to take a smart approach to counter strenuous trading conditions for consumers and make the most of the bank holiday at the end of the month by ensuring digital and physical work together to increase overall sales figures.

“Last year,, part of RetailMeNot discovered that mobile devices unlocked £200 million sales in-store, therefore as we get closer to the May half term and Summer holidays, retailers could be expecting a busy shopping weekend on the high street,” commented Lewis.

“Shopping is no longer divided into the plain and simple clicks vs bricks – the lines are blurred now more than ever and consumers expect to switch between the two experiences seamlessly.

“Shoppers want to investigate competitor prices, check stock location and read consumer reviews all whilst standing right there within the store.”


BRC: Footfall declines but shoppers still spending…

According to the British Retail Consortium‘s (BRC) latest ‘BRC-Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor’ for the five weeks between August 28 and October 1, total footfall for the month of September fell by 0.9 per cent compared to the previous 12 months; a return to the decline in footfall seen before the 0.1 per cent increase experienced in August.

The research found that footfall in retail park locations was also ‘broadly flat’ in September, worse than the 0.4 per cent rise in August, and footfall in shopping centres fell 2.5 per cent in September, a further fall from the 1.9 per cent drop in August and is below the three-month average of -2.1 per cent.

Chief executive at BRC, Helen Dickinson OBE said: “Total footfall was fractionally down this month with almost one per cent fewer people heading out to shopping locations across the UK. At the same time as both footfall and shop prices have fallen year-on-year, retail spending grew in September by 1.3 per cent. This is a function of the changing face of retail and the hard work and innovation of British retail businesses who are responding brilliantly to technological advances and changing consumer habits.”