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Retail groups says festive footfall was disappointing

by Rachel Symonds
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New data taking into account Christmas footfall has been described as disappointing by the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira).

The organisation was commenting following the BRC-Sensormatic IQ Footfall Monitor report for December, which showed that total UK footfall decreased by five per cent in December (YoY), down from -0.7 per cent in November. High Street footfall decreased by 4.2 per cent in December (YoY), down from -1.7 per cent in November.

Bira said that the low footfall figures for the festive season are disappointing and have confirmed what a challenging year it was for shop owners.

Andrew Goodacre, CEO of Bira, commented: “These footfall figures are very disappointing and confirm what a challenging year it has been for so many independent retailers. The only silver lining to this footfall cloud is the fact that high streets have done better than other locations, showing that people still prefer to visit shops on the high street.

“As well as needing some luck with the weather, looking into 2024, we need the government to focus on improving consumer confidence. This can be achieved through ensuring financial stability and focusing on economic growth. We also need to recognise that whilst online is an important part of retail these days, more than 70 per cent of all retail purchases are still in shops. High streets are still integral to communities and local economies throughout the UK, and so we need to see continued investment in these all-important locations.”

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive at the British Retail Consortium (BRC), added: “December’s heavy rain left many shoppers reluctant to brave the elements, who instead opted to browse online before making final purchases, or shop online altogether. This led to a substantial decline in footfall levels compared to December 2022, when there was significant pent-up demand for in-store shopping post Covid-restrictions. Some cities, such as Edinburgh, bucked the trend, and saw footfall levels rise in December thanks to recent investment in new, exciting shopping destinations.

“With a General Election on the cards later this year, we are calling for the political parties to set out a clear and cohesive plan for retail in their manifestos. This plan must take account of the regulatory cost burden and broken business rates system which are limiting business investment and growth. Ways also need to be found to create thriving shopping destinations and drive customer footfall back up again in 2024.”

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