High Street Slump Reaches a Four Year High

Mon, 12th Aug 2019

The latest figures published by the British Retail Consortium and Springboard indicate that more than ten percent of stores on the high street are lying empty as of July. This marks the greatest empty rate since January of 2015.

The number of shoppers has also fallen, with a decline of 1.9 percent for the month of July, the biggest drop for July since 2012.

This report comes as a wave of bankruptcies and restructuring plans has struck retailers that are struggling to compete against the challenges of online shopping. In some towns, such as Doncaster, the picture on the high street is even more bleak with one in five stores vacant.

Footfall on the high street is down by 2.7 percent, and footfall at shopping centres is down by 3.1 percent. Out of town retail parks have so far managed to avoid the downturn, attracting more shoppers in July and reporting a 1.2 percent increase in footfall.

Analysts believe that one reason for the strong performance of retail parks is that they have managed to bridge the convenience-experience gap, offering a good shopping experience and also providing easy options for click and collect for those who shop online. Providing leisure facilities and cafes within the store also helps, since it gives shoppers a reason to spend time in the store.

Retailers currently account for five percent of the economy, and yet they are paying 25% of all business taxes, and 10% of all costs. For the high street to survive, and companies such as Debenhams and House of Fraser to continue, this will need to change.

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