Metal shop fittings and retail display equipment
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Shoppers are out in force according to the latest figures

Just when some pundits were suggesting that retail spending is likely to weaken along comes a set of figures that suggests the opposite.  As designers and manufacturers of bespoke retail display systems we’re naturally delighted by this report which is obviously good news for our customers.  If you are a retailer and you’d like to capitalise on the fact that the sector is in good shape we’d be delighted to talk to you about how bespoke metal display systems can help you create a more attractive shopping environment and buyer experience.

A spring in shopper’s step

The latest figures released by the British Retail Consortium – Springboard Footfall & Vacancies Monitor point to a 1.6 per cent growth in footfall in April compared to 2016.  This is well above the three-month average growth of 0.7 per cent, marking the first positive quarter since May 2014 and the highest level of growth since 2012.

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Helen Dickinson, BRC Chief Executive, sounds a mild note of caution when she comments that “The Easter holidays boosted family visits to shopping destinations in April, resulting in the fastest annual growth of footfall since March 2014.  The inclusion of the holidays in this period will have distorted this figure but even looking beyond this, the picture over the last quarter has been largely positive.”  Even allowing for this the figures are still pretty encouraging.

The performance for shops on the High Street was particularly impressive, with a 2.3 per cent rise in footfall, far above the 1.4 per cent three-month average.  “As has been the trend for some months now, high streets across most of the UK attracted the largest increase in visitors out of all shopping destinations,” Dickinson added. “This translated into good news for stores too, which saw their fastest annual sales growth since January last year.”

Retail parks also saw a healthy 2.7 per cent growth, three times the three-month average of 0.9 per cent.  Shopping centres suffered a 0.6 per cent decline in footfall, but the rate of decline slowed from the 0.9 per cent quarterly average.

Vacancy rates improving too

Another positive indicator is the fact that April also saw a marginal decline in vacancy rates across the UK, dropping from 9.3 per cent to 9.4 per cent.  Diane Wehrle points out the picture is mixed, with the figure largely offset by a sharp decline in London.  “The vacancy rate also improved very slightly in April to 9.3 per cent from 9.4 per cent in January, but this disguises increases in vacancies in all areas apart from in London, the East and the North & Yorkshire,” she said.

Inflation creeping up

All of this was achieved despite the continuing rise in inflation, which climbed to its highest level in three-and-a-half-years over April as the weak pound and Easter break pushed prices up.  The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that inflation rose to 2.7 per cent last month.  This marks its highest level since 2013, above the Bank of England’s two per cent target.  The Retail Price Index (RPI), a separate measure to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) which includes council tax and mortgage payments hit 3.5 per cent increase, up from 3.1 per cent in March.

The price rises were most marked in the fashion sector. The price of clothes rose 1.1 per cent between March and April, compared to a 0.4 per cent decline a year prior.  This represents the highest hike in six years.  The ONS states this could be due to the fall in fashion retailers offering sales items throughout the month.  Food prices also climbed in April with a 0.2 per cent month-on-month rise.  The Bank of England, in its latest inflation report, predicted that the CPI would hit three per cent by the end of the year.

Seize the opportunities while they are there

The latest footfall figures are encouraging for retailers, showing the continued willingness of people to go out and spend, no matter what else is going on in the economy.  Sales will obviously go to those stores that provide the most attractive offering – so if you’d like some advice on the best ways to up your game with enhanced retail display systems then we’d be more than happy to share our design and fabricating experience with you.

Dymond Shop Fittings

Dymond Engineering and Metal Products Ltd
Combrew Lane
Devon EX31 2ND

Tel: 01271 372662
Fax: 01271 322077

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"For more than 20 years Dymond have supplied us with innovative solutions at competitive prices, often within tight time scales."
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