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Helen Dickinson British Retail Consortium

Retail – another disappointing drop in footfall

Retail footfall in the South West during October was 4.9 percent lower than a year ago – the worst figure in mainland Britain – according to the latest figures from the British Retail Consortium.

Only Northern Ireland – whose retailers reported a drop of 9.8 percent – was worse affected.

Nationally, high streets reported the greatest fall at 3.6 percent, followed by shopping centres at 2.9 percent – unchanged from September’s figure.

Footfall in out-of-town locations improved slightly, but was still 1.2 percent down year-on-year.

The town centre shop vacancy rate for the South West was 12.4 percent – higher than the national figure of 11.1 percent, and highest in the UK after Northern Ireland (18.5 percent), Wales (16.7 percent) and the West Midlands (13 percent).

Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium director general, said: “It’s disappointing to see shopper numbers falling again after September’s slowdown, with only one area of the UK [the East] showing growth. 

“Although recent months have hinted at economic recovery, many of us are still cautious and keen to manage budgets ahead of Christmas.
“High street and shopping centre footfall both took a hit in October, while out-of-town fared a little better. 

“This trend partially reflects our recent sales figures, which showed that furniture and homewares – often sited in retail parks – had a decent showing while other categories were more subdued, especially fashion.

“Despite the tentative optimism in the air, it’s clear that conditions remain challenging. 

“Retailers will be hoping that a festive boost to browsing and buying puts things back on a more even keel over the coming months.”