- Retail footfall falls in July but high streets recover
- Better weather and discounts drive shoppers to town centres
- But one in ten shops were empty in the three months ending July 30
Footfall dipped 0.4% in July, but high streets bounced back from a sluggish June to outperform shopping centres and retail parks.
Town centres benefited from better weather and strong end-of-season discounting to drive more shoppers into stores, as footfall on high streets edged up 0.3% year-on-year.
The slight increase in shopper numbers came after a 3.7% slump during June.
It meant high streets were the best-performing locations during July, as retail parks and shopping centres both suffered declines in traffic.
“Some high streets in London and other major cities saw the changes in exchange rates produce increased spend from overseas visitors”
Diane Wehrle, Springboard
According to data from the British Retail Consortium and intelligence firm Springboard, footfall dipped 0.3% at retail parks, while shopping centres posted the steepest year-on-year decline of 2% as shoppers opted to make the most of the weather and stay outside.
Springboard marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle added that the fallout of the EU referendum vote may also have had a positive effect on certain high streets.
She said: “Some high streets in London and other major cities saw the changes in exchange rates produce increased spend from overseas visitors, who could get incredible value with seasonal sales and strong exchange rates providing an unbeatable shopping offer.”
Despite the positive news for high streets, the BRC-Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor revealed “cause for concern” after one in ten town centre shops were left empty in the quarter ending July 30.
The data found that 10.1% of shops were vacant, creeping above the 10% mark after “a long run” below that figure.
“If property costs in general, and business rates in particular, continue ever upwards, we should all be concerned about the impact on our local communities up and down the country”
Helen Dickinson, BRC
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson described the hike in empty units as “a bitter disappointment” and said the data served as “an unwelcome reminder of the heavy burden of property costs”.
Dickinson added: “With UK property taxes higher than anywhere else in the developed world they act as a disincentive to operate physical space.
“Today’s figures should serve as a wake-up call. If property costs in general, and business rates in particular, continue ever upwards, we should all be concerned about the impact on our local communities up and down the country.”
However, Wehrle said the April to July quarter was “irregular” as post-Christmas pop-ups and other temporary stores disappear from high streets.
She added that the “political and economic uncertainty” following Brexit may also have deterred retailers from taking on store leases, but said the next quarter’s data would provide a “clear picture”.