High Street footfall down again in August

12 September 2017

High street retail footfall declined by 2.6% in August – a bigger fall than the previous month – suggesting shopper confidence is dipping, according to figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) published yesterday (11 September).

It was the worst performance of the year and the third month out of the last four in which footfall has dropped by more than 2%, following a 2.1% fall in July. In contrast, online business jumped 11% in value in August – the highest monthly rise in 2017.

Footfall measured across all retail destinations and outlets in August was down 1.2% with the steepest declines in Greater London (down 2%) and Northern Ireland (down 2.3%). The east and south-east of England and Wales were the three regions that experienced a footfall rise during the month. The east has now seen nine months of consecutive footfall growth in contrast to the East Midlands, which marked six months of consecutive year-on-year decline with a 4.9% fall in August.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “Encouraging shoppers back to more of our town centres is crucial to reducing the high number of vacant premises and the increasing gap between the vibrant and in-demand areas and those at the much more economically fragile end of the spectrum.

“The sheer cost of doing business on high streets has direct implications for the affordability of retailers’ investments in new or refurbished stores. A far more concerted effort is required from policymakers to stem and ultimately reduce the cost of doing business, particularly in more economically fragile communities.”