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Retail footfall over the Christmas period fell by 2.6% according to the latest BRC-Springboard footfall and vacancies monitor, marking the thirteenth consecutive month of decline.

High street footfall in the five weeks to 25 November overall retail footfall fell back 2.1%, marking five consecutive months of weakening figures.

Retail Parks saw a 2.1% year on year footfall drop, below November’s rate of 1.4%.

Shopping Centre footfall slumped by 3.9%, broadly in line with both November’s 2018 and December’s 2017 rates of -3.8%. This location reached now 21 consecutive months of declines.

The overall 2.6% drop across retail destinations was a lesser decline compared to the previous year when it fell sharply by 3.5%.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson commented: ““The December results conclude a difficult year for retailers, with footfall dropping by 2.6% over the year. This continued drop, now onto its thirteenth month, continues to put pressure on bricks-and-mortar stores up and down the country. It comes at a time when retail is in the midst of a transformation, investing in technology and the online offer, as well as offering more experiences in physical shops. This is evolving many high streets into a destination for wider services, as well as shopping.

“However, many well-known brands have disappeared from our high streets, and without government intervention there will be more to come. Government should take action by reforming the broken business rates system and ensuring consumers and retailers retain tariff free, frictionless trade with the EU after March 29.”

Diane Wehrle, Springboard marketing and insights director, added: “The -2.6% decline in footfall in December 2018 the ninth in ten years, and the seventh consecutive year of decline - is undeniably strong evidence that retailers can no longer rely on Christmas trading to redeem revenue lost earlier in the year. Indeed, over the past seven years the shift in footfall away from December has been so significant that the gap between both December and July and between December and November in terms of footfall volumes has halved over the past seven years.

“If nothing else is learnt from December 2018, it is that discounting does not stimulate customer activity, and is severely eroding the strength of Christmas as a major trading period. Ignoring the warning signs and continuing to bring sales forward undermines profitability and, ultimately, longer term innovation in retailing.”

Morning update

On the markets this morning, the FTSE has opened the week down 0.4% to 6,890.1pts ahead of tomorrow’s crucial Brexit vote.

Fallers so far this morning include SSP Group (SSPG), down 1.5% to 682p, McColl’s (MCLS), down 1.1% to 54p and FeverTree (FEVR), down 1% to 2,487p.

Stocks on the up include Nichols (NICL), up 1.6% to 1,539.4p and C&C Group (CCR), up 1% to €3.17.

This week in the City

After the post-Christmas flurry of trading updates last week the flow of news settles back down to more of a trickle again this week.

The biggest news of the week is away from the stock market as all eyes on Tuesday will be on the UK parliamentary vote which will finally happen on Theresa May’s Brexit deal. The deal is expected to be rejected by MPs despite a trickle of former critics saying they will back to deal in recent days. If parliament votes ‘no’ on the deal, the government will have to update the chamber on a ‘plan b’ by the end of the week.

City newsflow remains quiet until Thursday, when there are a number of updates scheduled.

Primark owner Associated British Foods (ABF) will issue its first quarter results on Thursday, while leisure group and former Costa Coffee owner Whitbread (WTB) will also update the market on its first quarter trading.

Also on Thursday Premier Foods (PFD) will reveal its third quarter sales as will SSP Group (SSPG).

Internationally, French grocery giant Casino will publish its full-year sales.

Wednesday brings the publication of the UK’s monthly inflation figures, while the official monthly UK retail sales figures from the Office of National Statistics are issued on Friday.