High Street vs Retail Park: Where should you open a shop?

It’s not secret that UK High Streets have been struggling with declining footfall for a while.

With initiatives such as Independent Retail Month, many have been campaigning to bring customers back to the High Street.

This time last year, retail expert Clare Rayner said: “As footfall on the UK’s High Streets continues to drop, independent retailers need to do everything they can to keep shoppers coming into town.”

And in March this year, The Future High Street Summit urged UK towns and High Streets to ‘think differently’, predicting that town centres may be less likely to be dominated by big name brands in the future.

A new report from BRC and Springboard indicates that this continued focus on improving shopping areas around the UK might be starting to pay off.

High Street footfall in September 2015 decline 1.4 per cent – its best performance for seven months, excluding Easter distortions.

Shopping centres also only reported a 1.3 per cent decline. Overall, Footfall in September was 0.2 per cent lower than a year ago, which is an improvement on the 1.6 per cent fall in August. This was above the three-month average of 0.9 per cent.

It might seem like a small change, but it does show hope.

“The overall decline in shopper numbers across the UK now stands at 0.2 per cent – a marked improvement from last August’s 1.6 per cent fall,” said Helen Dickinson, BRC Chief Executive.

“UK High Streets are showing their best figures for seven months with the footfall decline slowing to just 1.4 per cent. This may offer a small crumb of comfort to retailers who will be hoping that this signals the end of shoppers deserting the high street and raise hopes of their return, especially with Christmas on the horizon.”

As physical retailers fight back against the booming etail market, those placed within retail parks are seeing an even better improvement in footfall.

The report reveals that retail parks recorded their biggest rise in footfall for almost two years in September with a four per cent increase.

“Retail parks continue to offer shoppers a full leisure experience and are already seeing strong increases in footfall. Retailers who have invested in stores in these locations will be hoping the draw remains strong throughout the winter months,” added Dickinson.

So if you’re thinking about opening up a retail shop, or expanding your businesses with an additional store on your local High Street, it might be worth considering a retail park.

But where in the UK would it be best to open a shop? Well, the BRC and Springboard’s report has also detailed what regions have seen the most improved footfall.

Three regions reported footfall growth in September: East Midlands, Greater London and the South East. This was the South East’s first move into positive territory since February 2015.

Footfall in all three nations improved, with Northern Ireland and Wales seeing the greatest improvements.

Scotland was the worst performing nation, under performing both Northern Ireland and Wales for the first time since July 2013.

Image source: Shutterstock

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