London bucks trend as high street suffers

Chris Papadopoullos
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London was the only region to see growth in footfall
HIGH street retailers and shopping centres face a growing struggle due to the shrinking number of consumers visiting their stores.

Retail footfall drop­ped 1.1 per cent in July compared with the same month last year, according to figures released today by the British Retail Con­s­or­ti­um (BRC) and Springboard.

Greater London was the only region to register growth in footfall, with a 0.4 per cent increase. London also has the lowest town centre vacancy rate at 6.8 per cent.

Across the UK, high streets and shopping centres saw declines of 2.2 and 2.5 per cent respectively.

By contrast, retail parks saw footfall jump 3.1 per cent.

The national town centre vacancy rate was 9.8 per cent in July 2015, down from the 10.2 per cent rate reported in April 2015. It marks the lowest vacancy rate since 2011.

“The clear note of caution, though, can be found in the footfall figures. No matter how successful high streets are in re-inventing themselves, if they can’t deliver increased footfall, we could easily see vacancy rates climbing again,” said BRC director general Helen Dickinson. “It’s worth noting that the footfall decline has slowed this month, but it still has a way to go.”

“Reducing the burden of business rates would give high street operators the opportunity they need to allow more of them to finally flourish.”