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Retailers and town centre management must give omnichannel shoppers reasons to go to the high street: BRC

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Omnichannel services are helping retail parks attract shoppers who click and collect their online purchases. But retailers, town centre managers and local authorities must work together to give those shoppers a reason to come to the high street, says British Retail Consortium director-general Helen Dickinson.

“The pace of change in the way we shop shows no sign of slowing,” said Dickinson, speaking as the BRC/Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor showed footfall in May down 1% compared to the same time last year. That continues a trend seen in April when footfall fell 0.8%, year on year. “In fact, today’s figures show the rate of decline in shopper numbers on our high streets and in shopping centres has slightly increased. Local government, town centre managers and retailers will need to continue to work together to refine their high street offer and give customers practical, positive reasons to return.”

The report showed high street (-1.5%) and shopping centre (-2%) footfall had both fallen in May compared to the same month last year. Footfall to out-of-town centres such as retail parks, however, was up by 1.4% in May and up by 2% over the three-month trend between March and May.

Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard , said the owners of retail parks were getting it right to produce a result that contrasted with the long-term decline of high streets and shopping centres. “The success of retail parks is undoubtedly a function of owner driven change that has led to the introduction of a family based leisure offer in many out of town locations that previously fulfilled a purely functional role,” she said.

“This, in combination with plentiful and free car parking has enhanced the attraction of retail parks and improved their efficiency as click and collect locations for the ever increasing number of omni-channel shoppers. The high cost of parking in high streets and shopping centres, together with elongated travel times due to congestion means that urban destinations are at an obvious and increasing disadvantage.”

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