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High-Street footfall wanes as retailers fail to invest in technology

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In-store footfall is falling more vigorously than previously thought and retailers with brick-and-mortar stores need to invest in technology now to stymie the drop.

According to Springboard December monthly year-on-year footfall figure was significantly below the three-month rolling average of -1.9% and the twelve-month rolling average of -0.7%, meaning this is decline by 3.5 %. That’s the lowest since March 2013 when it dropped by 5.2%.

The challenges facing brick-and-mortar retailing are continuing to build this year, with -1.9% of high street footfall is more than a double (-0.8%) on a like-to-like basis in comparison January 2017. Shopping centres are also seeing a fall in footfall figures, falling at -3.1% following a drop in January last year.

Overall, the sharpest reduction in customer traffic is being experienced in Scotland (4.7%), South West (5.2%) and Greater London (3.7%).

“January painted a picture of divided fortunes with a slight improvement in town vacancy rates but decline in shopper footfall. The latter fell in line with the underlying trend of reduced customer activity in shopping destinations, compounded by the squeeze on discretionary spending. Meanwhile, retail sales continue to be buoyed by inflation, masking the lack of real growth, comments Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive at British Retail Consortium (BRC).

She adds: “Retailing is about digital and face to face interactions with customers and how the different channels complement each other. Having a business tax system that works to support that, not undermine it, is what the country needs and what we remain committed to [working] in partnership with Government to deliver.”

With the footfall slipping through retailers’ finger, Fujitsu believes that digital really does hold the key – and customers really want it. In fact, almost half (46%) of British consumers reveal that augmented reality (AR) will positively impact retain sector and virtual reality (VR) close behind (22%), according to the same body of research.

Conversely, almost three-quarters of retail leaders say that they have no plans to implement VR (73%) in the next twelve month, 72% of retailers have the same plans for AR.

Some seven in ten consumers say that retail has already been dramatically transformed by technology and a mere 50% of the retailers’ have a digital technology to fulfil this technological demand.

As yet, some retailers have a different view of what can increase footfall in their physical stores or benefit the business overall. In fact, 25% of retailers feel the least positive about the changes technology is driving in their business today, as they happen to be dissatisfied by the return on investment (ROI) technology has brought them and see it as a barrier that has made it more difficult to connect with a costumer in person.

Photo credit: fotoinfot (Fotolia)



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