Shopper numbers see further decline
All types of shop location saw fewer customers pass through over the past three months as the squeeze on consumer incomes tightened, according to latest research.
Footfall, or the number of people visiting shops, fell by 1% in the three months to July, with 11.2% of high street and shopping outlets vacant at the end of May, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
The figures, which were for a period before this month's riots, are despite a one-month improvement in July in all three types of destination - high street, shopping centre and out of town - due to the start of the school holidays and early summer sales.
The BRC said the figures overall continue to reflect the tough times for consumers, with high inflation, low wage growth and job uncertainty key reasons for the reduced number of shopping trips.
Areas with a high level of public sector employment have suffered the most, with Northern Ireland and Wales seeing the worst falls and also registering the highest level of shop vacancies.
Diane Wehrle, research director at Springboard, the report's co-author, added that retail parks and malls are now being affected as much as town centres.
Last week, Asda also said its customers were cutting back on trips to its stores due to high fuel prices. It estimates families have on average £9 less disposable income each week compared with this time last year, largely due to increased petrol costs.
Fewer motoring trips are giving a modest boost to the high street, with footfall though town centres up in both June and July on a month-by-month basis, though compared to a year ago the high street has still seen by far the largest fall in shopper numbers with a decline of 2.6%.
The problems have seen a number of household names appoint administrators including Oddbins, Moben, Habitat and Jane Norman, with a number of others announcing high street store closures.