Retail parks enjoy best footfall growth for a year
Retail parks enjoyed their biggest increase in footfall for more than a year in July as high streets and shopping centres continued to suffer.
Overall footfall in July was down 1.1% on the year, but retail parks bucked the trend by reporting a 3.1% jump in shopper numbers – its best performance since May 2014.
According to the BRC-Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor, shopping centre footfall dropped 2.5% while high streets saw a 2.2% fall in shopper numbers.
Greater London was the only area of the UK to report positive footfall growth of 0.4% compared to the same period a year ago. All other regions recorded declines; with the North and Yorkshire the worst hit area in England, suffering a 3% slump in shopper numbers.
Footfall fell 2.4% in Scotland, 4.4% in Wales and 4.5% in Northern Ireland, as bricks-and-mortar retailers continue to feel the effects of changing consumer habits.
Shop vacancy rates dropped to 9.8% in July – the first time it has fallen below 10% since the BRC-Springboard monitor began.
British Retail Consortium director general Helen Dickinson said that fact would be welcomed “cautiously” by retailers.
Dickinson added: “The continued popularity of retail parks will cheer retailers who have invested in these locations.
“For years, structural changes within retail have been challenging the role of the ‘traditional’ high street. Many high streets up and down the country have been working to meet these challenges by reshaping themselves – in some cases becoming smaller – and working hard to establish their own unique offer as well integrating it with a digital presence.
“Despite this the vacancy rate has remained stubbornly high – the dip below 10% for the first time may be indicative of successful attempts to reshape Britain’s high streets in some locations.
“No matter how successful high streets are in reinventing themselves, if they can’t deliver increased footfall we could easily see vacancy rates climbing again. It’s worth noting that the footfall decline has slowed this month, but it still has a way to go.”