July retail footfall figures show 1.7% decline on high street

UK retail footfall was down year on year in July, the second successive month of decline.

The 0.6% fall in shoppers on July 2013 followed a 0.7% fall in June, according to British Retail Consortium (BRC) figures.

High streets showed the biggest decline, with footfall down 1.7% year on year in July – the same as in June. Shopping centres saw a 0.5% fall following a 1.2% decline in June.

Footfall was down 1.5% on the high street for the three months to July and 1% in shopping centres.

Only out-of-town locations defied the downturn in retail, with a 1.7% increase year on year last month and 2.3% increase over the last three months.

Regional rates varied sharply. Footfall in Greater London was down 2.1% over the last three months and in the West Midlands down 3.1%. But in the southeast it was up 0.3% and in the southwest up 0.8%.

The figures, released this morning, do not include travel retailing. But the BRC data gives an up-to-date picture of other consumer activity.

The BRC recorded a national shop-vacancy rate of 10.1% last month, down from 10.6% in April.

BRC director general Helen Dickinson described the figures as ?mixed. She said: ?Out of town destinations performed well off the back of strong sales of furniture, home accessories and outdoor and garden items, while high streets and shopping malls dipped.?

Dickinson added: ?The reduction in the shop vacancy rate for the third successive quarter is heartening. However, every tenth shop remains unoccupied.

?This reinforces the need for a fundamental overhaul of commercial property taxes which would help rejuvenate our high streets.?

Diane Wehrle, retail insights director at Springboard which carries out the research with the BRC, said: ?July did not herald any good news. The 0.6% drop in footfall is in stark contrast to the 0.8% increase in July 2013.?

The 1.7% drop in high street footfall followed a 2.3% increase a year ago.

Wehrle welcomed the improvement in the shop vacancy rate, noting fewer vacancies across six UK regions. However, she said it was partially due to the increasing ?introduction of pop up shops and temporary lets?.

The BRC/Springboard Retail Footfall Monitor records footfall data across 227 shopping sites in 142 UK towns and cities.

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