November shop visits see biggest fall since 2009

Shopping visits fell last month at their sharpest rate since the recession as stores face Brexit uncertainty and sustained pressure from online competition in the run-up to Christmas.

The 3.2% decline in footfall compared to the same month last year was the biggest for November, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard.

It comes after Sports Direct and House of Fraser tycoon Mike Ashley warned recently that without radical action the high street would face extinction.

Springboard also predicted a 4.2% decline in December.

The footfall figures measure shopping visits across high streets, retail parks and shopping centres.

November’s data pointed to further pressure on bricks and mortar stores from internet retail as Black Friday – which a few years ago saw huge crowds flock to the shops in search of bargains – becomes an increasingly online event.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “Footfall continued to decline as consumers stayed away from the high street in November.

“With one-in-every-three-pounds of non-food purchases made online last month, Black Friday accelerated the movement from in-store to online in the lead-up to Christmas.

“The Black Friday discounting period also began earlier for a large number of retailers negatively impacting footfall across a longer period over the month.

“It has been a difficult year for many retailers and the outlook remains challenging as Brexit uncertainty grows.”

Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard, said: “As we head into the zenith of the retail trading calendar, both retailers and consumers alike are in the midst of the greatest degree of uncertainty in recent times.”

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