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High street visits drop as online shopping continues to grow

16 February 2017 - 11:39 by Graham Miller

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The latest figures focusing on footfall in the UK’s bricks and mortar stores from BRC show that the number of people heading out to the high street dropped by 1.3 per cent last month compared with the same period in 2016.

This is the most significant reduction in footfall recorded since June last year, when annual figures showed a 2.8 per cent decline.

Report spokesperson, Helen Dickinson, said that the ongoing decline of the high street in January was evidence that during this traditional period of significant discounts, consumers are turning to shopping online to get their retail fix.

She said that the clearance offers that were available in store were not enough to convince people to hit the high street, as many of the same price cuts were applied online as well, with poor weather conditions convincing people to stay indoors.

While the number of empty stores in town centres around the country actually fell last month, it still sits at 9.4 per cent. This comes after a fairly positive pre-Christmas trading period, where even the popularity of safe shopping online did not detract too severely from footfall on the high street.

Experts agree that there has been a change in consumer expectations when it comes to the bricks and mortar experience, with the web influencing the levels of engagement they want to see made available to them on the high street. This puts retailers under pressure to adapt and evolve, or else succumb to the continued drop in footfall for good.

This trend is only going to gather pace as 2017 progresses, meaning that e-commerce will continue to prosper in the UK while retailers still shackled to the high street will face a steady decline in visitor numbers.