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UK high streets ‘less busy than a year ago’

British Retail Consortium says numbers of shoppers on high streets falls by 2.6% over past year, with Wales worst hit

Britain’s high street shops have seen a 2.6% drop in customer numbers over the past 12 months, according to the British Retail Consortium. The hardest-hit locations were Wales with a 9% drop, followed by the West Midlands and the east of England, which saw declines of more than 6%.

Greater London, the south-west and Scotland attracted more shoppers. Between May and July, 1% fewer consumers visited high street stores and shopping centres than a year earlier.

“In July, all types of shopping locations saw reduced footfall year-on-year and that was before the effect of this month’s disturbances in England,” said Stephen Robertson, BRC director general. “Fewer people are shopping because households are facing high inflation, low wage growth and uncertainty about future job prospects. But that’s slightly offset by hard-up customers spreading their spending over more but less costly shopping trips.”

More than one in 10 shops (11%) on high streets and in town centre malls stood vacant in May, with the highest vacancies in Northern Ireland (17.1%), Wales (13.4%) and the north of England including Yorkshire (13.1%).

Diane Wehrle, research director at Springboard, who compiled the figures for BRC, said: “Traditionally, retail parks and malls outperform the high street due to ease of access. These areas are now experiencing similar challenges to town centres.” © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds