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Footfall figures show consumers changing the way they shop

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Evidence of consumers changing the way they shop came from new British Retail Consortium (BRC) figures today.

Today’s BRC-Springboard Footfall Monitor found that in June, more people visited out-of-town shopping destinations, but fewer went to the high street or to shopping centres. Overall, footfall fell by 0.7%, with the high street 1.7% down and shopping centres down by 1.2%. The only rise came out-of-town, with visitor numbers up by 2.4%.

Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium director general, said: “Out-of-town shopping destinations continue to outperform high streets and shopping centres, reinforcing the fact that shopping is something we increasingly do as a leisure activity and that well-managed destinations, whether in or out of town, still have the power to pull in the shopping public.”

But, she said, footfall didn’t necessarily equate to good or bad sales. “Retailers have seen good sales growth in their online offering,” she said, and many are reporting positive results led by their online summer sales. The popularity of click and collect has helped support footfall in retail parks, offering further evidence of the changing shape of how we shop and the increasing complexity of the relationship between digital and physical.”

She said it was important to identify and remove barriers across shopping channels, whether business rates for those with stores and the lack of digital infrastructure for those trading online.

Diane Wehrle, retail insights director at Springboard, said that retail and shopping park footfall had increased for the sixth month in a row in June. “It appears that the trend for consumers to favour out of town locations over urban shopping environments has established itself as a key feature of 2014. In sharp contrast, in both high streets and shopping centres footfall has dropped in all but one month this year, which reinforces the much recognised need for investment in our long established and strategically significant town centre retail locations.”

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