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BRC/Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor for January shows growth in out-of-town footfall

According to the latest BRC/SPRINGBOARD Footfall and Vacancies Monitor, footfall in January was 1.2% lower than a year ago, down on the 0.7% fall in December.

Shopping Centres reported the largest decline, falling 2.8%, while high streets experienced a 1.6% decline in footfall, up on the 1.8% fall in December.

Footfall in out-of-town locations fared the best with a 1.5% increase year-on-year.

Wales reported the greatest fall in regional footfall, down 4.6% year-on-year.

The national town centre vacancy rate in the UK was 10.4% in January 2015, an increase from October's rate of 10.3%.

Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium Director General, said: "It has been heartening to see that footfall is up 1.5 per cent on January last year for out-of-town retail destinations. This reflects strong consumer confidence – more of us are happier to splash out on big ticket items, particularly furniture, which we usually travel out of town to view and buy.

"January is traditionally strong for online sales and this year was no exception. This has undoubtedly impacted on footfall for high streets and shopping centres and is further evidence of the impact of our changing shopping habits. Retailers will be looking closely at these figures to help them harness the growth of e-retailing to drive consumers to their bricks and mortar stores. Click-and-collect services are an excellent example of how this is happening right now and innovations in this area are set to continue for some time to come.

"Rising numbers of vacant shop units are still a cause for concern. We have welcomed the government's pledge to review business rates on our recommendation however in order to make a real difference the review will need to be wide in scope and seek radical solutions. Many local councils are working hard on initiatives to inspire high streets and shopping centres to flourish and the BRC continues to support this work. Spreading best practice - such as supporting pop up shops, increasing digital connectivity and focusing on general town centre improvement – is crucial if we are to drive down a vacancy rate that remains stubbornly above 10 per cent."

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