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High street visitor numbers flag as e-commerce thrives

17 May 2018 - 13:06 by Graham Miller

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Figures show that 4.8 per cent fewer people visited bricks and mortar stores over the past couple of months than during the same period in 2017, with analysts warning that the rise of safe shopping online is still taking its toll on UK high streets.

Sky News reports that the stats published by the British Retail Consortium signal yet another problematic period of shrinkage for real world retail, with Brits less likely to head out to a shop when they can buy what they need online.

This drop was especially stark in March, when the dip in footfall was greater than during the 2008 credit crunch, a time at which consumer confidence was especially low and many big chains were put up against the ropes as a result.

The signs of this tough trading environment have been clear for some time; the problems faced by Toys R Us and Maplin made clear that even internationally known chains were not immune from the issues of muted spending mixed with a growing taste for safe shopping online.

Experts blame a number of factors for damaging high street footfall, although point out that inflation has actually come down in recent months, while wages are increasing at levels which go above earlier predictions. 

The main issue is that of confidence, as consumers remain uncertain about the economic future of the UK with Brexit on the horizon and some believe that this is directly responsible for the downturn in retail activity being faced at the moment.

The fact that e-commerce sales are still growing during this age of consumer caution is a testament to how much shopping habits have changed in recent years, as the appetite for e-commerce remains strong in many parts of the country where the high street is struggling.