Retail news round-up on August 18, 2014: Footfall drops 0.6% in July, Morrisons extends opening hours across half its estate, Business rates appeals to cost £4.2bn.

Retail Week's Breakfast Briefing

Footfall drops 0.6% in July as high street drags down performance

Footfall fell 0.6% in July as shopper numbers on the high street deteriorated. However, the overall footfall figure is an improvement on June, when shopper numbers dropped by 0.7%, according to the BRC/ Springboard data. In July, footfall on high streets fell 1.7%, in line with the decline in June. Shopping centres experienced a 0.5% decline, an improvement on the 1.2% fall in June. Footfall across out of town locations performed the strongest, up 1.7%. Scotland showed the greatest rise in regional footfall, up 4.4%. The national town centre vacancy rate in the UK was 10.1% in July, an improvement on April’s rate of 10.6%.

Morrisons extends opening hours across half its estate

Struggling grocer Morrisons has extended opening hours at nearly half of its stores as it aims to win back share in the tough market.The grocer has extended opening hours to 6am-11pm at 230 of its 490 shops, according to The Telegraph. Those stores will be open for 1,600 more hours per week in total. Morrisons boss Dalton Philips said stores “need to be open for longer” to meet the demands of “modern family life, flexible working hours and busy schedules”. A recent YouGov poll found that one in five shoppers prefer to visit the supermarket before 9am or after 8pm.

Business rates appeals to cost £4.2bn

Business rates appeals are expected to cost the Government £4.2bn after one in three commercial properties in the UK contested the tax. Paul Turner-Mitchell, a high-street campaigner who compiled the data from Freedom of Information requests, said the figures reflect the extent of the disarray of the system.