Written by: Keith Tully
Reviewed: Tuesday 10th September, 2019
High street retailers saw a significant decline in the number of people entering their stores across the UK over the course of recent weeks.
According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), footfall across the country fell by 1.3 per cent during August compared to the same month of last year, and by 2.1 per cent in the three months to the end of August.
Retail parks saw an overall increase in the number potential customers they attracted during August but the figures suggest 2.2 per cent fewer people visited shopping centres during August this year compared with the same month in 2018.
“Retail footfall continues its downwards trajectory this month, with high streets and shopping centres most affected,” explained Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC.
“The long-term trend, which has seen footfall decline by an average of 1.7 per cent over the last 12 months, reflects the fact that increasingly cautious consumers are holding back on discretionary spending and not heading out to the shops.”
Ms Dickinson added that retail parks have been able to boost their footfall recently in part because they can offer shoppers access to a range of activities beyond just shopping.
However, she also made clear that high street retailers across the board are faced with a consistently challenging trading environment at the present time.
“There is little sign that the stresses on retail will abate any time soon,” she said. “Stuck between weak demand thanks to Brexit uncertainty, and rising costs resulting from business rates and other public policy costs, many retailers are clearly struggling.”
The BRC has insisted that the government should be doing more to support high street retailers, so many of whom are finding it tough to stay viable in the current environment.
A growing number of high street retail operations have been entering into Company Voluntary Arrangements (CVAs) as a means of staying in business, while others, including big names like BHS, House of Fraser and Debenhams have all been entered into administration in recent years.
Tens of thousands of jobs have also been lost across the UK’s retail industry in recent quarters.