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UK stores see a 10 per cent drop in visitor numbers over seven years

By Philip Smith

Footfall plummets as shoppers continue to steer clear of the high street

The number of people visiting shops and retail centres is down by more than 10 per cent in seven years, according to research from The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard.

In the past month alone (compared with September 2018), shopping centre footfall dropped by 3.2 per cent and visits to high street stores by 1.8 per cent.

The only increase in footfall was found at retail parks, which rose by 0.1 per cent.

Competition from online sales portals, plus increasing rents, business rates and wages (affecting prices) have been blamed, says The Guardian.

BRC CEO Helen Dickinson also laid responsibility at political uncertainty. “With Brexit looming, many consumers are holding off from all but essential purchases,” she said.

A finger was also pointed at the weather. “The vast majority of this decline emanated from the last week of the month when it was hit by exceptionally heavy rain,” said Diane Wehrle, a director at Springboard, which conducted the survey.

Retail parks, with their free parking and concentration of retailers and leisure amenities, fared better with September footfall edging up slightly, although they are still affected by the seven year decline.

Shoppers are making more of their purchases online, says Internet Retailing. The latest ONS Retail Sales report (August), showed that 19.7 per cent of retail purchases that month were made online.

That still leaves more than 80 per cent of sales in-store, says Retail Gazette. “There is still much for bricks and mortar stores to play for in the fourth quarter of 2019, which of course includes the all-important festive trading period,” added Ms Wehrle.

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