High street footfall posted the strongest increase of any shopper category in August compared with the same period last year, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
Two out of the three locations reported an increase in footfall, with strong growth seen on high streets, which rose 1.1%, while retail parks reported a 0.4% increase. Footfall in shopping centres continued to decline, falling 1.9% in August, the seventh consecutive month of falling shopper numbers.
Six of the 10 regions in which the BRC measures footfall saw a rise in August, all reporting growth rates above the overall UK average. Northern Ireland footfall rose 2.5%, while Wales continued to report strong footfall growth, improving on July’s rate, rising 1.8%.
The West and East Midlands, North and Yorkshire and South East witnessed footfall declines.
Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the BRC, said: “Although this month’s increase in footfall is only marginal, it is an improvement on last month’s 0.4% decline. It’s also only the third time this year that overall footfall has increased. So, while these figures will give retailers some cheer, they’ll only be cautiously optimistic for the months ahead.
“High streets were the real winner in terms of the destinations we were favouring this month. They saw footfall rise a healthy 1.1%. This compares with a fall in retail sales for the same period. This suggests that people are being drawn to the high streets for reasons other than to shop – perhaps because many are now doing a better job of providing a mixed offer and are no longer solely retail destinations.
“Improving this model should bode well for the longer term survival of the British High Street.”