Posted 15th Aug 2019

Vacancy rate ‘worst in over four years’, says BRC

15th August 2019 - 07:00am
money matters, brc, british retail consortium, springboard, footfall, uk, retail, shopping, high street, retail park, shopping centre, kitchen, bathroom, kbb, kbbdaily, ekbbusiness

The national town centre vacancy rate hit its “worst in over four years” in July, according to the latest British Retail Consortium – BRC – Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor, while footfall saw its worst decline for the month since 2012.

Footfall dropped by 1.9% last month, with high street footfall declining by 2.7% and shopping centre footfall decreasing by 3.1%. However, retail parks continued to fare better with a 1.2% increase in footfall last month.

“Retailers have faced a challenging environment this month, with declines in footfall on high streets and shopping centres,” said BRC CEO Helen Dickinson. “Sluggish sales growth and declining footfall also contributed to the rise in town centre vacancies, which rose to their highest level since January 2015.

“High streets and town centres play an important part in our local communities, and we should be concerned by the rise in empty store fronts. If the Government wishes to avoid seeing more empty shops in our town centres then they must act to relieve some of the pressure bearing down on the high street.”

She added: “Currently, retail accounts for 5% of the economy, yet pays 10% of all business costs and 25% of all business taxes. The rising vacancy figures show this is simply not sustainable.”

Springboard marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle said: “Consumer demand is ever more polarised between convenience and experience, and the stronger performance of out of town destinations where footfall rose by 1.2% in July reflects the fact that retail parks are successfully bridging the convenience-experience gap.

“They not only offer consumers accessible shopping environments with free parking and easy click and collect opportunities for online purchases, but many also combine this with an enhanced experience that includes coffee shops and casual dining restaurants, and some also have leisure facilities.”


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