Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium: 

“The story for UK shopper footfall in August unfortunately remains much the same as before, with most shopping locations seeing a year-on-year decline. Indeed footfall sagged last month at a more pronounced rate than that witnessed over the past quarter as a whole. Retail parks once again bucked the trend, with shoppers attracted by the convenience of a one-stop shop for purchases, services and leisure activities.

Encouraging shoppers back to more of our town centres is crucial to reducing the high number of vacant premises and the increasing gap between the vibrant and in-demand areas and those at the much more economically fragile end of the spectrum. The increasing number of locations falling further and further behind continues to grow. These areas clearly have their work out to attract custom with the right mix of retail, leisure and other facilities and ensuring ease of access and parking. From a retailer point, the sheer cost of doing business on our high streets has direct implications for the affordability of retailers’ investments in new or refurbished stores.

A far more concerted and urgent effort is required from policymakers to stem and ultimately reduce the cost of doing business, particularly in our more economically-fragile communities. Not applying the planned inflationary increase to business rates next April would be a place to start.”

Diane Wehrle, Marketing and Insights Director, Springboard: 

"Last month's prediction of increasingly constrained consumer activity seems to being borne out with footfall once again dropping across all parts of the day, and accelerating post 5pm to -2% from just -0.5% in July.  High street footfall tumbled to -2.6% in August, the third month out of the last four in which footfall has dropped by more than -2% and the worst result this year.  The sheer number of high streets across the UK - which is around twice as many shopping centres and retail parks combined - means that high streets have a heavy influence on the overall UK result.

At least part of the reason for more subdued footfall was a rise in online activity, in terms of both value and volume.  Online sales rose by +11%, the greatest rise this year and significantly up on the +6.2% last August and the +8.3% in July.  The uplift in online sales volumes at +8.7% was a third higher than the +5.5% in July, with the increase in transactions via mobile devices of 27.6% higher than in any month since October last year.  In part the rise in online activity will have been a result of much cooler, rainy weather this August than in 2016 which undoubtedly discouraged some shopping trips.  However, it is also a function of increasing inflationary pressures, driving consumers online in a search for lower prices which is likely to only become more significant as inflation continues to increase its bite on household budgets."