Experts warn Christmas could be a “season of discounts” as footfall slows

The British Retail Consortium is warning that the vital pre-Christmas period could be a “season of discounts” as it releases its October data that shows retail footfall down by 2% compared to the same month in 2017.

The number of vacant town centre shops also increased by 9.3%. Almost one in ten shops are now empty, according to the research conducted in conjunction with Springboard.

October is the eleventh month of consecutive annual footfall declines.

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The BRC says these numbers reflect the ongoing trend of declining footfall. However, they are also signs that consumers are waiting for Black Friday and seasonal discounts before visiting shops.

“October showed another month reflecting the continued long-term decline in footfall. This trend is primarily driven by a move from in-store to online purchases. With retail becoming more digital, physical shopping locations are working to reinvent themselves as places people go for days-out rather than just for day to day purchases,” says Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of RBC.

High Street footfall fell by 2.3%, now three months of consecutive weakening for this shopping location. Northern Ireland and Greater London were the only two regions to see growth of 4.0% and 0.2%, respectively. The decline in the South East saw a significant acceleration from 0.6% to 5.0% in this location, the deepest fall since April 2018 when it declined by 6.2%.

At -0.2% in October, Retail Parks footfall slipped back after two months of positive growth.

The Shopping Centre footfall decline deepened to 3.3% from 2.5% in September (now 19 months of consecutive decline), a similar rate seen in October 2017, when it fell by 3.0%. No region experienced growth in this location.

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