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'Retailers are clearly struggling' - Fears as high street footfall drops again

PUBLISHED: 09:39 09 September 2019 | UPDATED: 09:53 09 September 2019

Footfall has dropped once again for the British high street. Picture: DAVID VINCENT

Footfall has dropped once again for the British high street. Picture: DAVID VINCENT

Archant

Experts have warned British retailers face tough times ahead as nervous customers cut their spending.

Superdrug, the health and beauty store, is closing its store in Carr Street, Ipswich. Picture: DAVID VINCENTSuperdrug, the health and beauty store, is closing its store in Carr Street, Ipswich. Picture: DAVID VINCENT

Footfall to British shopping locations was down 1.3% last month, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard.

The high street saw a decline of 1.9%, compared with a 2% drop in the same month last year.

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Meanwhile, shopping centres experienced the most severe dip in visitors, with a decline of 2.2%.

Sports Direct store in Carr Street, Ipswich. Picture: DAVID VINCENTSports Direct store in Carr Street, Ipswich. Picture: DAVID VINCENT

Only retail parks managed to attract more consumers, with footfall rising by 1%.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said the downward trajectory was due to "increasingly cautious consumers" who are "holding back on discretionary spending".

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"There is little sign that the stresses on retail will abate any time soon. Stuck between weak demand thanks to Brexit uncertainty, and rising costs resulting from business rates and other public policy costs, many retailers are clearly struggling," she said.

"The Government should take the opportunity to reduce the heavy cost burden holding back retail investment."

However, August had the strongest footfall of the summer months, partly due to the hot weather over the Bank Holiday.

Argos in Carr Street, Ipswich, is closing down. Photo: Archant.Argos in Carr Street, Ipswich, is closing down. Photo: Archant.

It has been a tough years for retailers in Ipswich town centre, with many national chains closing branches in the town due to the harsh economic climate.

Argos in Carr Street will soon be shutting its doors, while Superdrug in the same street, Ohh Deer in Thoroughfare and Cotswold Outdoors in Tavern Street have already shut down.

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Diane Wehrle, Springboard's marketing and insights director, said although consumer confidence is currently weak, the overall decline has been evident for over a decade.

"We must remember that declining footfall is a long term trend with annual increases being the exception rather than the rule," she said.

"Indeed, footfall has declined in every year since Springboard started publishing its national data in January 2009."

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