The summer heatwave and food price inflation halted three months of retail footfall growth on the high street in August.
Overall retail footfall dropped by 1.6 per cent on the previous year, with the sharper decline due to rising food inflation, which left shoppers with less money for non-essential items, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) revealed today.
The high street saw a decline of two per cent, with the steepest falls in the east, south west and the east Midlands. Northern Ireland was the only region to show growth, at 1.4 per cent.
August was the 17th month of consecutive decline for shopping centres, where footfall fell at a decelerated rate of 2.4 per cent last month.
Springboard marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle said: “The drop in footfall of 1.6 per cent in August is the worst result since April.
“Given the sweltering temperatures during what has been the hottest summer on record, it is not surprising that visits to shopping destinations declined further as consumers made the most of the weather elsewhere.”
Retail parks performed better that the high street in the east and south west, which showed growth of 5.1 per cent and four per cent respectively, but struggled in London and the north.
British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “British high streets experienced a quiet August this year as the continued squeeze on wages kept consumers away from the shops.
“With fewer shoppers visiting the high street and a difficult overall trading environment the pressure is increasing on retailers as rising public policy costs continue to bite.
"The government must take action now and commit to a two-year freeze on business rates to help reduce the pressure of this disproportionate tax on retailers and allow for a fundamental reform of the business taxation system.”