Retail footfall figures fell last month, although vacancy rates also dropped, according to the latest British Retail Consortium/Springboard footfall and vacancies monitor.
Overall footfall for July dropped year-on-year by 0.6%. High streets reported the largest decline (1.7%) compared to the same month in 2013 while shopping centres saw a 0.5% decline. Out-of-town locations increased their footfall by 1.7% year-on-year.
On the vacancy side of the report, the national town centre vacancy rate was 10.1% in July, a decrease from the previous quarter’s rate of 10.6%.
British Retail Consortium director general Helen Dickinson said: “These results are a mixed bag, with footfall easing downwards in July but with the shop vacancy rate recording its best performance since our records began in July 2011.”
“Footfall dipped 0.6 per cent in July compared to the same period last year, albeit less pronounced than in June (-0.7%),” she said. “Out-of-town destinations performed well, off the back of strong sales of furniture, home accessories and outdoor and garden items, while high streets and shopping malls dipped reflecting weaker sales of goods such as beauty products.”
Dickinson added that despite the drop in vacancy rates, more needed to be done. “The reduction in the shop vacancy rate for the third successive quarter is heartening, with the vacancy rate at its lowest level since our records began in July 2011,” she said.
“However it is still the case that every tenth shop remains unoccupied. This reinforces the need for a fundamental overhaul of commercial property taxes, which would increase retailers’ confidence about investing in new or existing retail premises and thus help rejuvenate our high streets.”