UK shoppers shunned the high street again in September, as footfall declined by 2.2 per cent compared to the same time last year.
Overall footfall to bricks-and-mortar stores fell 1.2 per cent on the year, declining at the same rate as was seen in August, according to Springboard's latest figures for the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
"September’s sales rose due to inflation, but the accelerating decline in footfall is a strong indicator of consumers railing back spending," explained Diane Wehrle, Springboard's marketing and insights director. "Much is often made about the impact of weather, but with similar weather conditions to September 2016, this cannot be put forward as a driver. Aggressive early season sales indicate retailers are spooked, and they will be on edge with the six week countdown now on to the start of the festive shopping season."
While footfall to shopping centres was down one per cent last month, retail parks continued to be more popular, with footfall up 1.1 per cent. But this still came in below the three-month average of 1.4 per cent.
Read more: Consumer spending fell again in September
Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the BRC, called on the government to do more to relieve pressure on struggling retailers.
"With September’s RPI expected to be at least four per cent meaning retailers’ business rates bills will surge by quarter of a billion pounds in 2018, the prospect of a further investment sapping rise is deeply worrying and will only serve to make things tougher on the high street.
"In his Budget next month, the Chancellor has an opportunity to offer local communities and high streets some much needed respite from risks to local shops and jobs by scrapping next year’s rise in business rates.”
London was one of the slowest-declining regions, but footfall still sank 0.9 per cent in September. This marks a slightly better performance in the capital compared with July, when London footfall lagged the national average.
Decline was fastest in Northern Ireland, where footfall plummeted by 4.3 per cent.