Oxford Street - Debenhams
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Debenhams announced plans for up to 50 store closures earlier this year
Richard Bell

Black Friday of ‘no benefit’ to high streets as woes deepen

Last month saw the number of people out shopping dip to its lowest level since the Great Recession, according to retail figures.

High streets, shopping centres and retail parks recorded a 3.2% year-on-year drop in footfall in November, taking customer traffic to a low not seen since the financial crisis in 2008.

Figures revealed by analysis firm Springboard show that Black Friday sales are driving more and more shopping online over a longer period.

According to Springboard, the footfall decline serves as “indisputable evidence” that Black Friday does not benefit physical stores.

The firm is expecting footfall to drop 4.2% year on year this month, compared with the 3.5% decline seen in December last year.

Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard, said of the findings in a BBC report: “These figures are the worst footfall figures that Springboard has recorded since the recession and we’re not actually in recession.

“It’s clear that something significant is happening out there in consumer demand. It has really railed back this year.”

Growth in online shopping has been a central challenge for the UK’s high streets, which have seen numerous chains close stores, slash jobs or cease trading this year.

Among the more high profile stories was businessman Mike Ashley’s £90m swoop for troubled department store group House of Fraser.

In October, an annual loss of almost £500m drove Debenhams to announce plans for up to 50 store closures.

A report published last month found that as many as 14 high street shops are closing every day in Britain, with an estimated 2,692 shut during the first half of 2018 alone.

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