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UK footfall drops in January

London - UK retailers suffered a tough January, as new data from the British Retail Consortium and Springboard has revealed. Figures show high street footfall fell 0.8 percent while footfall in retail parks fell by 0.4 percent to mark the third consecutive month of decline.

Meanwhile, footfall in shopping centres dropped for the twelfth month running with a fall of 3 percent. The figures are likely to highlight the slowdown in consumer spending in 2017 as the effects of Brexit will become a reality for retailers and consumers alike.

Clothing and footwear retailers saw the quickest annual reduction in expenditure since April 2012 with a fall of 3.8 percent. Kevin Jenkins:, UK & Ireland managing director at Visa stated: “Clothing and household goods retailers experienced a particularly difficult January. The traditional start of year sales did little to lift clothing spend, which saw the biggest drop in nearly five years. The high street as a whole suffered a disappointing month too, with spend falling at the quickest rate in four years.”

Diane Wehrle, Springboard insights director, said: “The 1.3 percent drop in footfall across the UK's bricks and mortar destinations in January may be a sign of tougher things to come in 2017. Not only was it a noticeably larger drop than the 0.2 percent in December; but it was the steepest decline since June 2016, when footfall was impacted in the preceding weeks and in the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum.

Shopping centres are seeing the highest drops in footfall

“The results are consistent with longer term footfall trends, with an underperformance of shopping centres against high streets and retail parks. Of significance is that footfall is correlating closely with retail sales, with all sales results published so far showing a poorer performance in January than in January 2016. Springboard's own data on bricks and mortar sales showed a 1.5 percent drop in January from January 2015.”

The BRC and Springboard, which also compile data on vacancy rates, found that the national town centre vacancy rate was 9.4 percent in January down from 9.5 percent in October 2016. This is the lowest rate since January 2016 when it stood at 8.7 percent.

Helen Dickinson, BRC chief executive, said: “In some parts of the country the number of empty shops remains worryingly high and act merely as a blot on landscape of local communities. And while the overall the rate has tended to remain around 9 to 10 percent since July 2015, the variation between successful and vulnerable locations grows ever wider.”

Spending split by channel shows that ecommerce outperformed face-to-face categories but increased at the slowest annual rate in five months at 4.1 percent.

Credits: Photo, Oxford Street London, Wikimedia Commons; article source: Springboard, BRC