--Footfall at U.K. retail stores was down 0.7% in January, from a 1.6% drop in January 2018
--Vacancies rose to 9.9% last month, from 8.9% in January 2018
--Rising online sales prompt fewer visits to physical stores
By Will Horner
British stores saw a 0.7% decline in footfall last month, an industry group said, as the nation's brick-and-mortar retailers continued to struggle under the pressure of growing online sales.
It was the fourteenth month of consecutive declines, the data recorded by the British Retail Consortium and retail-performance analyst Springboard showed, with effects felt most in shopping centers and on high streets.
The drop was less than the 1.6% fall seen in the previous year, but Diane Wehrle, Springboard's marketing and insights director, cautioned that longer-than-normal school holidays in the first week of January explained the slowing decline.
Town-center vacancies also rose, the data showed, reaching 9.9% last month compared with 8.9% in January 2018.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium said the data reflected the pressures shops are facing from changing spending habits.
"Retail is undergoing a seismic shift, with technology changing the way we shop. Consumers are making fewer visits to physical stores, choosing to research and pay for a greater proportion of their purchases online," she said.
Write to Will Horner at firstname.lastname@example.org; @willhorner
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
February 10, 2019 19:15 ET (00:15 GMT)
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