January brought some stability for bricks and mortar stores, with a drop in footfall of just 0.5% from January 2019, when footfall fell by 0.7% during the same period last year.
This was reinforced by an improvement in shop vacancies, with the rate of 9.8% being the lowest for a year, and below the rate of 9.9% in January 2019.
For the five weeks covering December 29 2019 – January 25 2020, footfall in retail parks rose by 1.4% from January 2019, demonstrating their ability to bridge the gap between functionality and experience, and cater for the needs of today’s efficient shopper.
Footfall in shopping centres rose by 0.2% from January 2019, the first month with an increase since March 2017, and only the third month in four years when footfall has risen. Footfall in high streets, however, declined by 1.8% in January, as some consumers were attracted back into shopping centres.
Springboard Marketing and Insights Director, Diane Wehrle, says: “January was the first month since March 2017, and only the third month in four years, that footfall in shopping centres rose; and whilst a rise of +0.2% is only a modest increase it brings some much needed hope for this destination type that has consistently lost shoppers for over two years. It seems that this is an early sign that the regeneration schemes long planned by owners to broaden the offer of malls to incorporate a greater experiential element, particularly in the larger malls, are working and they now better reflect consumers demands. It is likely that this is part of the reason why footfall in high streets declined by -1.8% in January, as consumers were attracted back into shopping centres, and is further illustrated by the contrast in footfall post 8pm which rose by +3% in shopping centres whilst declining by -1.3% in high streets.
“This result reinforces the benefit of a single ownership structure and also demonstrates the realisation that the old format of 100% retail is no longer relevant. Whilst the gestation period for shopping centre investment may be a long one, once the chess pieces are finally in place a single owner is often more readily able deliver meaningful change than a high street, which can be weighed down by a multiplicity of owners all of whom have varying objectives and aspirations for their particular asset. The path of enhancement of shopping centres has only just begun, but the shift in the proposition of some malls alongside the reduction in supply, taking out malls that are simply not fit for future purpose, will bode well for those that remain. The issue moving forward will be the cumulative impact of this, together with the functionality of retail parks, on high streets.”