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Wales sees biggest fall in shopper numbers

Credit: Lauren Hurley/PA Wire

The British Retail Consortium says Wales has seen the highest decline in shopper numbers across the UK.

In January they fell by 4.6% compared to a year ago. The biggest decline was at shopping centres followed by the High Street and out-of-town sites.

Meanwhile the number of empty shops was also up on the previous three months.

Our report ‘Welsh Retail: An Economic and Social Contribution’, which was launched this week, highlights the importance of the retail industry to communities across Wales and today’s figures will no doubt be of concern to many.

With almost 130,000 employees and 8,000 businesses Welsh retail is key to the wellbeing of our economy and we need be doing all we can to encourage investment by retailers and consumers alike.

We welcome the Minister’s recent comments around business rates and the potential for radical reform in the medium to long term. Retailers want to be at the heart of these discussions.

– Sara Jones, Head of Policy & External Affairs, WRC

Christmas retail period best 'for three or four years'

It is one the busiest weekends for retailers across Wales as thousands of shoppers rush to pick up last minute gifts for Christmas.

Chris Parry, a senior lecturer in Banking and Finance at the Cardiff School of Management, said it will be "the best year (for retailers) for three or four years".

"Smaller businesses have had two of three years where they've struggled tremendously.

"This Christmas is going to help them. It's going to save many of them from going out of business."

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Confidence among small Welsh businesses grows

Confidence among small businesses in Wales is continuing to rise, according to a survey by the Federation of Small Businesses.

The survey also showed that small businesses in Wales saw turnover rise for the first time since the third quarter of 2010.

This comes despite shopping numbers in August in Wales being 2.7 per cent lower than a year ago.

However, this could be down to an exceptional month last year as a result of the London 2012 Games.

Decline in shopper numbers "appears to be slowing"

“It’s disappointing to see footfall continuing to fall, but we can take some comfort from the fact that the decline in shopper numbers appears to be slowing. Retailers will be crossing their fingers for better weather over the coming months and for consumer confidence to continue to build. This, in turn, should encourage more of us to venture out on shopping trips.”

– John Munro, Director of the Welsh Retail Consortium

Shoppers 'out in great numbers' last month

Latest footfall figures show shoppers took to Wales' high streets 'in great numbers' last month.

In the latest High Street Index, the number of shoppers increased by nearly four per cent compared with March 2011, and nearly 17 per cent compared with February this year.

Springboard figures show that Wales is doing better than the UK as a whole, with the national footfall decreasing two per cent on March last year.

Coastal towns benefited from soaring temperatures in late March with Porthcawl, in Bridgend, achieving about a one hundred per cent footfall increase.

  • Wales month-on-month 16.9% increase
  • Wales year-on-year 3.9% increase
  • Porthcawl, Bridgend, saw an increase in 101.5%

The cost of petrol and parking undoubtedly played a part in the relative underperformance of regional cities in recent months, however, their recovery in March demonstrates that town centres can see a rapid turnaround of fortune.

– Diane Wehrle, research director at Springboard

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