Number of Britons visiting high street shops edges up in July
LONDON – The number of shoppers on Britain’s high streets rose slightly in July compared with a year ago, according to another survey that suggests consumer demand has held up since Britons voted to leave the European Union.
Retail data company Springboard and the British Retail Consortium said high street footfall rose 0.3 percent compared with July 2015, following a 3.7 percent drop in June.
Overall, the figures contributed to a mixed picture for consumer spending since the June 23 referendum, with consumer confidence plunging but few major retailers reporting any slowdown in sales.
Last week a survey from the BRC showed spending in shops rose in July at the fastest pace in six months.
Better weather and big discounts tempted more Britons onto the high streets, compared with declining numbers visiting shopping centres, Springboard said. The steep fall in the pound since the referendum result also enticed overseas buyers.
“Some high streets in London and other major cities saw the changes in exchange rates produce increased spend from overseas visitors,” said Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard.
She added that the vacancy rate – or percentage of shopfronts unoccupied – rose in the three months to July to 10.1 percent compared with 9.6 percent in the three months to April.
“The next quarter’s figures will be the ones to watch to get a clear picture on any continued increase in vacancy rates, which would be concerning for town centres across the UK,” Wehrle said. -Reuters