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BRC/Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor shows another disappointing drop for retail

The latest BRC/Springboard Footfall Monitor shows that footfall in October was 2.9% lower than a year ago, down on the 2.4% fall in September.

On a three-month rolling basis, this is the worst performance since the start of the year, excluding Easter distortions, reflected in the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.

High streets reported the greatest fall, down 3.6%, followed by shopping centres, unchanged from September's 2.9% decline. Footfall in out-of-town locations improved slightly to -1.2%.

The East was the only region to report positive footfall growth, up 0.8% compared with a year earlier.

The national town centre vacancy rate in the UK was 11.1% in October 2013, unchanged from July's rate.

Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium Director General, said: "It's disappointing to see shopper numbers falling again after September's slowdown, with only one area of the UK showing growth. Although recent months have hinted at economic recovery, many of us are still cautious and keen to manage budgets ahead of Christmas.

"High street and shopping centre footfall both took a hit in October, while out-of-town fared a little better. This trend partially reflects our recent sales figures, which showed that furniture and homewares – often sited in retail parks – had a decent showing while other categories were more subdued, especially fashion.

"Although the proportion of empty shops in the UK is unchanged, it's again masking widespread variations. There are nearly twelve percentage points between London's vacancy rate and Northern Ireland's, and the latter's increase is coupled with an equally worrying steep drop in shopper numbers.

"Despite the tentative optimism in the air, it's clear that conditions remain challenging. Retailers will be hoping that a festive boost to browsing and buying puts things back on a more even keel over the coming months."

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