Dismal weather hits high streets

Shopper with bagsThe dismal start to the summer took its toll on Britain's high streets as the number of shoppers fell by 2.3% in the three months to July, figures have showed.

Record wet weather led to the decline in so-called retail footfall across the UK, with London, Scotland and the east of England the hardest hit with declines of 8.9%, 8.2% and 7.3% respectively.

The data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) showed the high street was the worst hit in the May to July quarter.

The number of shoppers on the high street fell 5.5% year-on-year in the quarter, while out-of-town shops suffered a 1.2% fall and shopping centres saw a 0.4% decline.

Footfall has now fallen on the high street for 18 months, driven by job fears and pressure on consumer spending, according to the BRC.

Shop vacancy levels have also risen, to 11.4% in July, up from 11.2% a year earlier.

Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC, said: "In most parts of the UK, it's a continuing story of people being short of money, reluctant or unable to spend, resulting in consistently high levels of empty shops."

He added: "There was little sign of a general jubilee bounce though the wettest June on record did produce the only month in the quarter when shopping centre footfall rose as people avoided going outside.

"Retailers will be hoping the Olympics had a more positive impact."

But there was some cheer from the retail sector last week when official figures showed a surprise 0.3% increase in sales in July. And the figure for June was revised significantly higher to 0.8% from a previous estimate of 0.1% after additional information was received from retailers.

www.brc.org.uk/brc_home.asp(British Retail Consortium)
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