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High street visits dip as online shopping prevails

05 January 2018 - 09:37 by Mike Price

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On the final day of 2017 there was a 10.5 per cent reduction in the number of people who went to real world retail outlets compared with a year earlier, according to stats published by Springboard.

This follows a similar trend seen on other days during the period between Christmas and the New Year, with a 4.5 per cent decline recorded on Boxing Day.

Shopping centres were hit the hardest, suffering a 3.8 per cent drop in visits, followed by high street shops and finally retail parks, which still suffered as people chose to stay at home and shop online rather than brave the snow, wind and cold temperatures outside.

Report spokesperson, Diane Wehrle, said that analysts were surprised to see footfall take a hit on New Year’s Eve, but blamed poor weather conditions early in the day for this.

She said that bricks and mortar stores had been struggling along with lower than expected sales and visitor numbers throughout the pre-festive shopping season. Economic uncertainty has prompted consumers to be more cautious with their cash, while the rise of safe shopping online has further changed habits, according to Wehrle.

Another contributing factor identified in the study is that people have more options in terms of where to spend their cash as a result of the diversification of the leisure market. This makes it harder for retail to secure the lion’s share of disposable income and also hits higher priced items in the most significantly measurable manner.

As Brits become more conscious about how much money they are spending, retailers across all platforms will need to take action to avoid further falls in activity. But since the web provides the best opportunities for bargain hunting, growth seems set to continue here in spite of problems on the high street.