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Customers visit shops less often as they opt to order online instead

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Shoppers are changing the way they use the high street as the influence of online shopping rises, new British Retail Consortium figures suggest.

The BRC/Springboard Footfall Monitor for November 2014 found footfall for the month was down by 2.4% compared to the same time last year. The biggest fall came in the high street, where visitor numbers were down by 4%. Shopping centres also saw 2.1% fewer visitors, while out-of-town centres saw 0.8% more.

BRC director general Helen Dickinson, said: “Today’s figures suggest that people are buying more non-food items per shopping trip; likely due to them having researched their potential purchases online or having chosen to click and collect.”

She added: “Despite these figures, we know that retail sales for the same period remain strong – and this is not due solely to the increasing popularity of online shopping. Whereas once multiple shopping trips for a few items and leisurely browsing were the norm, now increasingly savvy shoppers are streamlining their visits to stores when making non-food purchases. The most successful shopping destinations are ensuring that they have a range of other experiences and activities on offer to drive up footfall.”

Diane Wehrle, retail insights director at Springboard, said: “Yet again it is high streets and shopping centres that are driving the decline in footfall, whilst footfall in retail parks remains positive, albeit a smaller rise than in previous months. The results clearly indicate that the structural shift in consumer activity brought about by the internet is ongoing, and that it is largely out of town locations that are continuing to capitalise on this change. However, it needs to be recognised that retail parks started from a much lower base than that for either high streets or shopping centres, and their increasing attractiveness to shoppers is compounded by the benefit of free car parking.

“It is particularly disappointing for high streets and shopping centres that the significant price promotions offered over the Black Friday weekend were not sufficient to turn the tide over the month. Indeed, it suggests that if retailers are to encourage shoppers back into bricks and mortar stores then there needs to be a greater focus on the enhancement of the customer experience, rather than a knee jerk reaction towards discounting which only undermines margins and long term profitability.”

Commenting on the futures, John Pincott, European managing director of Shopatron, said: “Being the king of convenience is the goal for retailers during the busiest shopping season of the year.

“Although footfall is down on the high-street, with sales figures reaching new heights this year this could in fact indicate that as well as taking advantage of online delivery consumers are also streamlining their trips to the high-street through services such as click and collect.

“With shoppers expected to flock to the supermarket aisles on Mayhem Monday on December 22nd, we can expect this to be reflected online with more shoppers than ever likely to take advantage of click and collect for their big Christmas food shops.”

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