January sales fail to tempt shoppers into stores

January sales fail to tempt shoppers into stores

This was mirrored by consumer spending, which according to Visa dropped 1.2 per cent in January alongside a four per cent drop in spending in shops.

The figure was slightly better than the three-month average of a 1.8 per cent decrease, but below the 12-month average of a 0.7 per cent decline.

The report reveals that the shop vacancy rate in the north fell to 14.3 per cent in January from 15.2 per cent in October, which is in line with the average over the past year of 14.5 per cent.

Aodhán Connolly, director of NIRC, said the North also had the highest number of vacant shops in the United Kingdom last month, although the overall vacancy rate of 14.3 per cent had fallen slightly.

"A drop in footfall of 1.6 per cent is an improvement on December's 3.5 per cent, but it is the worst result for January since 2013", said Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at analytics firm Springboard, which compiles the data together with the BRC. Retail parks emerged as the only winners in January, rising 0.9 per cent across the United Kingdom and seeing a four per cent and 3.3 per cent growth across the South East and West Midlands respectively. Not only are they efficient click and collect points, but their attraction to shoppers is enhanced by a wider offer, embracing hospitality. That was largely thanks to reduced vacancy rates for Greater London (now 5.6%, and down from 7.1% in October).

"January painted a picture of divided fortunes with a slight improvement in town vacancy rates but decline in shopper footfall", said Dickinson.

Retail footfall suffered a fresh slump across the United Kingdom in January, as consumer appetite continued to be subdued by Brexit uncertainty and relatively high inflation.

NIRC director Aodhán Connolly looked at the positives, and said: "While our vacancy rate is still the highest across the United Kingdom, this fall below 15 per cent does give a glimmer of hope to another set of unimpressive figures". But it remains the highest vacancy rate of all the regions (the United Kingdom average is 8.9 per cent).

"If we look beyond the seasonal distortion, the pressures to rationalise and downsize store portfolios are continuing to build as structural and technological change gains momentum".

Retail footfall in Scotland has fallen for the ninth month in a row, according to new industry research. "Having a business tax system that works to support that, not undermine it, is what the country needs and what we remain committed to work in partnership with Government to deliver".

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