New study reveals High Street still suffering amid downturn

| April 1, 2009 | 0 Comments

According to Experian’s FootFall UK National Index, retail sales are still suffering amid the economic downturn as shoppers continue to abandon the High Street.

The Index found that shopper numbers fell 1.7% across the UK in March with Wales and the South West hit the worst with numbers down 7.13%.

Meanwhile, according to Experian, 15% of retail floor-space is vacant, with some cities reporting a vacancy rate of 39%. Rising costs and soaring rent bills are just some of the reasons why retailers are going bust.

Experian has previously warned that the country’s High Streets face becoming “ghost-town” areas and has re-iterated this warning following its latest figures.

Commenting on the figures, Sunita Bali, Experian’s senior UK economist, said “Our FootFall data and latest ONS sales figures (showing a 1.9% fall in spending volumes in February) confirm what we have long suspected - that consumers are cutting back on their spending and the growth in sales during January was mainly the result of heavy discounting.”

Experian believes the outlook is bleak predicting a 1% contraction in retail sales for the 2009 year - the first full-year decline in over 17 years.

In response to the slowdown, the Local Government Authority recently called for measures to be taken which include allowing a council to take over empty properties and a reduction in VAT for refurbishing shops.

Many experts believe the traditional town centre could disappear without long-term action.

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