Sales & Marketing

High street in worst decline this year, but out-of-town on the rise

2 min read

15 September 2014

In line with many previous reports, footfall on the high street continues to fall, with only one monthly exception this year. However, people are dropping more money in out-of-town centres, showing it isn't all going digital.

Football in August was down 1.1 per cent compared to a year ago, and down 2.8 per cent on the high street alone – the worst decline since February – according to a report from British Retail Consortium (BRC). 

This was true across counties, with the notable exceptions of Northern Ireland (up 4.2 per cent) and Scotland (up 1.8 per cent).

Bucking the trend of decreasing footfall, out-of-town locations rose by 2.9 per cent since last year, and revenue per sale actually increased.

Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium director general, comments on the result: “Footfall might be down slightly this month but retail sales performed well in August. Taking account of the impact of online shopping we see that customers are spending more per trip than in recent months. 

“It seems that customers are hitting the high streets with purpose – knowing what they want to buy ahead of time, supported by online research – and doing more shopping in a single trip. 

“Out-of-town performed better than high streets. The strong sales performance of furniture retailers, who for reasons of space tend to be located on retail parks, seems to have given a boost to the footfall figures in out-of-town locations.” 

Diane Wehrle, retail insights director at Springboard, offers advice for businesses which rely on footfall: “In part the success of out of town locations this year is undoubtedly due to the increased demand for household items driven by the rise in house prices. 

“However, they are also delivering an increasingly attractive wider leisure based offer with plentiful free car parking in a safe environment. 

“While high streets and shopping centres are working hard to both retain and to win back customers, if they are to prosper over the critical Christmas trading period in the face of strong out of town competition, it requires the speedy alleviation of obvious barriers to shoppers such as high parking costs.”

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