The West Midlands has seen the largest fall in footfall of any UK region in the past quarter, new data shows.
In the midst of a spending slowdown, the number of people in the region’s stores fell by 10.4 per cent in the three months to October, according to new research from the British Retail Consortium.
The fall in the region is significantly larger than the UK average of 2.3 per cent compared with the same period last year.
Researchers also found that the vacancy rate for retail premises in the region stood at 11 per cent – which is better than
Northern Ireland (12.9 per cent), East Midlands (12.7 per cent) and the North and Yorkshire (12.5 per cent).
Across the UK, footfall was down in all types of locations with high street and shopping centre measures falling by 2.5 per cent, while out-of-town fell by two per cent.
The West Midlands headed the hardest hit locations ahead of Scotland, which suffered a nine per cent fall, and Northern Ireland, which saw footfall decrease by 5.5 per cent which recorded the sharpest decreases in footfall.
South East, at 2.9 per cent, Wales, at 1.8 per cent, and Greater London, which enjoyed a 0.1 per cent rise, held up the best.
August’s riots were not widespread or long-lasting enough to have had any noticeable impact on the figures.
Stephen Robertson, British Retail Consortium Director General, said. “In October, UK high streets saw the sharpest drop in footfall since last December’s blizzards. A successful Christmas will be a lifeline for many retailers and they will be hoping that sort of disruption doesn’t add to their woes this time around.
“Footfall is down on a year ago in all types of retail locations. The town centre vacancy rate hasn’t worsened but is still alarmingly high. Consumer confidence remains weak with households’ budgets caught between soaring utility and fuel bills and low wage growth. This toxic mix has left people with less money to spend this Christmas than last and that’s stopping people shopping.
“To generate sales, retailers are offering lots of early promotions and running special events. Most people are determined to have their treats over Christmas if they possibly can. Retailers will be hoping the quiet quarter reflected in these figures is the result of households postponing their seasonal spending rather than cancelling it altogether.”