18 April 2024, 02:38
By Furniture News Aug 18, 2014

Footfall eases while vacancy rates fall

Footfall in July was 0.6% lower than a year ago, up on the 0.7% fall in June. High streets reported the largest decline, falling 1.7%, consistent with the decline in June, while shopping centres experienced a 0.5% decline in footfall, up on the 1.2% fall in June.

Footfall in out-of-town locations fared the best with a 1.7% increase year-on-year. Scotland reported the greatest rise in regional footfall, up 4.4% year-on-year. The national town centre vacancy rate in the UK was 10.1% in July 2014, a decrease from April’s rate of 10.6%.

Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium director general, says: “These results are a mixed bag, with footfall easing downwards in July but with the shop vacancy rate recording its best performance since our records began in July 2011.

“Footfall dipped 0.6% in July compared to the same period last year, albeit less pronounced than in June. Out-of-town destinations performed well, off the back of strong sales of furniture, home accessories and outdoor and garden items, while high streets and shopping malls dipped reflecting weaker sales of goods such as beauty products.

“The reduction in the shop vacancy rate for the third successive quarter is heartening, with the vacancy rate at its lowest level since our records began in July 2011. However it is still the case that every tenth shop remains unoccupied. This reinforces the need for a fundamental overhaul of commercial property taxes, which would increase retailers’ confidence about investing in new or existing retail premises and thus help rejuvenate our high streets.”

Three regions in England reported footfall above the UK average – South West (0.2%), North & Yorkshire (-0.1%) and the East Midlands (-0.3%). Northern Ireland reported the largest decline in its footfall rate, down 5.2% in July – this is the first decline in footfall since Feb '14. Scotland reported the highest level of regional footfall, up 4.4%. Wales experienced a decline in footfall of 1.2% on the previous year.

Three regions of England had a vacancy rate lower than the UK average - Greater London (7.0%), the East (8.6%), and South East (8.2%). Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland all reported falls in their vacancy rates, at 16.7%, 12.7% and 9.1% respectively. Scotland is now below the UK average.

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