Caution as shopping footfall edges up in North

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THE North and Yorkshire was the only region in England and Wales to report positive footfall growth last month as consumers in the rest of the country failed to hit the shops in greater numbers.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said footfall in the region was 0.1 per cent higher than a year ago, compared to a fall of 0.9 per cent across the whole country.

BRC director general Helen Dickinson said there was reason to be cautiously optimistic as the region also has the UK’s highest vacancy rate.

Shopping centre locations were the worst hit with a decline of 2.2 per cent.

High street footfall declined 0.6 per cent but out-of-town retail locations were flat as home products became the best performers in sales terms in August.

The BRC said looking at the figure for the quarter to the end of August was more encouraging, with a rise of 1.1 per cent compared with the same three months a year earlier.

It also pointed out that the monthly result may have been distorted by comparisons with the stay-at-home impact of the Olympics in August 2012.

And while there was a decline in footfall, those visiting retail locations spent more as figures from the BRC earlier this month revealed that the sector enjoyed its best month in sales value terms since March 2010.

Ms Dickinson said: “All in all, these figures need to be taken in tandem with the recent rosier economic news, including a good run of sales growth and many of us starting to feel more positive about the economy.”

She added: “A small dip in one month shouldn’t take the shine off the tentative signs of improving consumer confidence hinted at in recent times, and retailers are working hard to read these conditions so that they can continue to deliver for their customers.”

The biggest decline was the 2.7 per cent fall seen in Wales, while the South West dropped 2.5 per cent and the South East and West Midlands both saw footfall drop by 1.8 per cent.

In Scotland, footfall fell by 0.3 per cent.