In Brief

High street footfall down 10% in seven years

Rise of both online shopping and business rates blamed for falling numbers

A new study has shown that the number of shoppers visiting high streets, retail parks and shopping centres has fallen by 10% in the last seven years.

The trend was seen in microcosm in September, when retail footfall dropped 1.7% compared with the same month last year, and 1.6% on a three-month basis. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) attributed the slump to a combination of heavy rainfall and anxiety over Brexit with broader shopping trends.

Shopping centres suffered the largest loss of customers last month, with 3.2% fewer visitors than a year earlier, while high streets stores registered a 1.8% drop. Retail parks were the only shopping facility to enjoy an increase, with footfall inching up by 0.1%t.

The Guardian says “bricks and mortar retailers have continued to struggle as consumers shift towards online shopping,” and “the rising costs of running physical stores, including rent, wages and business rates puts additional pressure” on retailers.

The Retail Gazette notes that Debenhams and Marks & Spencer are among the chains to have recently announced store closure plans. However, The Independent reports that music retailer HMV “bucked the trend towards online shopping and away from the high street”, opening a new store in Birmingham last week.  However, t.

Looking at the seven-year trend, BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said confusion over the withdrawal from the European Union had exacerbated the decline of the high street, saying: “With Brexit looming, many consumers are holding off from all but essential purchases.”

She called on the government to “make sure they take no-deal off the table, while also addressing the public policy costs such as business rates, that prevent shops from investing in their retail offering.”

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