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January footfall marks 14th month of decline

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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Footfall in January fell by 0.7 percent, according to monthly data from the British Retail Consortium and Springboard, however, it adds that the decline is smaller than the 1.6 percent fall seen in January 2018.

The fall in footfall marks the fourteenth month of consecutive decline, but this January did get a boost on last year due to the school holidays extending further into January compared to last, and the fact that some retailers focused discount events within their physical stores during January, which Springboard notes is “likely to have increased traffic” as well.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive at the British Retail Consortium, said in a statement: “Footfall fell by less than the previous year as firms focused on in-store discounts – bringing relatively more people onto the streets. On the other hand the slight increase in the vacancy rate will be a cause for concern at many shopping destinations.”

High Street footfall declined by 0.7 percent, marking six consecutive months of weakening for this shopping location. This was a lesser decline relative to the previous year when it fell by 1.9 percent.

Meanwhile footfall in retail parks declined by 0.3 percent, a decline on last year when it grew by 0.9 percent, and shopping centre footfall declined by 0.9 percent, following the decline of 3.1 percent a year ago.

This also comes as the national town centre vacancy rate hit 9.9 percent in January 2019, an increase from 9.6 percent in October 2018 and worse than the January 2018 rate of 8.9 percent.

Dickinson added: “The data reflects the underlying pressures which continue to challenge shops up and down the country. Retail is undergoing a seismic shift, with technology changing the way we shop. Consumers are making fewer visits to physical stores, choosing to research and pay for a greater proportion of their purchases online.

“This requires a reinvention of retail, with outlets investing in their physical space to encourage a more experience-led approach to shopping – something which is being held back by sky high business rates.”

British Retail Consortium