High Street Retail Shows Decline, Compared with Out-Of-Town Shopping Increase

Continuing current trends, retail spending and overall customer visits are down on previous figures. Spending at out-of-town shopping centres, however, has seen an increase according to a report by the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

Overall footfall in August declined by 1.1% compared to this time in 2013, and has been down 2.8% on the high street alone; the worst decrease since February this year. This held true for counties across England and Wales, with only Northern Ireland and Scotland showing any increase in footfall.

Despite this, out-of-town shopping locations rose by 2.9% since this time last year, with revenue per sale also increasing.

Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium director general, comments on the result:

“Footfall might be down slightly this month but retail sales performed well in August. Taking account of the impact of online shopping we see that customers are spending more per trip than in recent months.

“It seems that customers are hitting the high streets with purpose – knowing what they want to buy ahead of time, supported by online research – and doing more shopping in a single trip.

“Out-of-town performed better than high streets. The strong sales performance of furniture retailers, who for reasons of space tend to be located on retail parks, seems to have given a boost to the footfall figures in out-of-town locations.”

Diane Wehrle, retail insights director at Springboard, offers advice for businesses which rely on footfall:

“In part the success of out of town locations this year is undoubtedly due to the increased demand for household items driven by the rise in house prices.

“However, they are also delivering an increasingly attractive wider leisure based offer with plentiful free car parking in a safe environment.

“While high streets and shopping centres are working hard to both retain and to win back customers, if they are to prosper over the critical Christmas trading period in the face of strong out of town competition, it requires the speedy alleviation of obvious barriers to shoppers such as high parking costs.”



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Words: Peter Cribley

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