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BRC - January sees sharpest fall in shopper numbers for nine months

Figures published today in the BRC/Springboard Footfall and Vacancies monitor show that footfall in January was 4.6% lower than a year ago, a poorer performance than the 1.2% fall in December.

The monitor shows a weaker footfall figure since April 2012 when shopper numbers declined 6.9%.

They show that the snow affected shopper numbers during the second half of January with a noticeable impact on footfall.

Out of town locations reported the greatest fall, at -7.2% and was followed by shopping centres and high street at -5.2 and -3.3% respectively.

The national town centre vacancy rate in the UK was 10.9% in January down from the October 11.3%.

Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium Director General, said: "This steep drop in footfall is obviously a cause for concern but, as our sales figures showed last week, fewer shoppers on the streets doesn't seem to have dented sales growth in January. The mid-month snow took its toll on numbers of people out braving the elements, especially when making journeys to out-of-town retail parks, but it seems that many of us stayed one step ahead of the big chill and bought more on fewer shopping trips."

"It's good news that the vacancy rate is slightly down on October 2012's record high. However, the UK average masks widespread variations, with Wales recording a particularly high rate compared with the previous quarter," she continued.

"If the Government wants to support reducing the vacancy rate further, it could really help by freezing business rates in April. The rising cost of doing business is a looming threat to the future health of retailers and high streets."

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