Retailers losing fight to attract customers as footfall declines

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The High street has seen the deepest decline in footfall since February 2014, putting April well below the three-month average.

This coincides with the first rise in town centre shop vacancies for 15 months according to the British Retail Consortium, which said the figures will make sobering reading for retailers.

Overall retail footfall in April was 2.4 per cent down on a year ago, slightly ahead of the 2.7 per cent fall in March. The national town centre vacancy rate was 9.6 per cent in April. This is the first time the vacancy rate has risen this year.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said: “In all but retail parks, footfall has fallen again. The high street has seen the deepest decline in footfall since February 2014 at 4.7 per cent. Some comfort may be taken in the fact that the overall rate of footfall decline has slowed to minus 2.4 per cent from last month’s minus 2.7 per cent.”

Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard, said: “April’s footfall figures certainly echo the high street decline seen over recent months, which can be attributable to the poor weather for this time of year, but with digital sales and retail parks also slowing down it signifies something more at play.

“The rise in unemployment and economic uncertainty in this pre EU referendum period has undoubtedly adversely impacted consumer activity. We know that cuts in retail spending are the first line of defence against threats to household budgets when consumer confidence is knocked.”