Drop in people using shops in Wales bigger than UK average

Footfall in Wales has fallen for 14 months in a row
Image caption Footfall in Wales has fallen for 14 months in a row

The number of people using shopping centres and out-of-town retail parks in Wales has seen has seen the biggest drop compared to the rest of the UK.

Footfall for Welsh retail stores was 1.7% down in March 2015 from a year ago, while the UK average was up 0.2%, and up 3.4% in the east of England.

However, despite it being the 14th consecutive month of decline, the drop is not as big as previous months.

And high street stores in Wales appear to be bucking the trend.

Sara Jones, head of policy and external affairs at the Welsh Retail Consortium said: "It's been another disappointing month for Welsh retail.

"Whilst the decline is not as severe as in recent months... today's figures will continue to highlight concern for our industry."

Research last year by Local Data Company showed more shops closed last year than opened while online shopping has risen significantly in recent years.

Wales figures for March 2015

  • Overall: -1.7% (UK +0.2)
  • High Street: -0.3% (UK -1.4%)
  • Out of town: -2.8% (UK +3.8%)
  • Shopping centres: -3.4% (+0.4%)

Source: British Retail Consortium - Springboard

But while footfall in high street shops across Britain is down 1.4% - Wales has seen only a fraction of that slump, down just 0.3%.

Eirian James, who owns a high street book shop in Caernarfon, said she has noticed an increase in the number of people on the street.

"We're busier than we've been," she said. "Talking to other shop owners they feel it's busier.

"People working in small towns work hard to make sure that they give good customer serve and people come back time and time again.

"Shops on the high street are finding work of doing things to get people into the shop and offering things different to what you get online."

Chris MacKenzie-Grieve, chairman of Aberystwyth Chamber of Commerce, said figures in the town may be affected further by a change in shopping habits of its large student population.

Steven Madeley, centre director at St David's shopping centre in Cardiff said it was bucking the national trend due to what it offers.

He said: "As a sector, retail is evolving and consumer demands, preferences and shopping habits are all changing. Consumers are increasingly looking for a mix of shopping, eating and leisure.

"Our customers are not just visiting us to shop - St David's has evolved into a venue to meet friends, eat or be entertained.

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