The High Street Footfall Decline - TrailTale’s Solution

AUTHOR: RAFI ILIVITZKY, MANAGING DIRECTOR AT TRAILTALE


A growing decline

According to the Retail Gazette Analysis (2019) - In the past seven years, British high streets have suffered greatly. In total, the high street footfall has declined by 10%, an incredibly large statistic; considering that our population is growing, rather than shrinking.

The analysis has also reported that more than 240,000 individuals have lost their jobs, and even the biggest high street chains have been forced to close (in some regions).

Whilst we are aware that Britain is one of several countries recovering from the recent pandemic; in the first half of 2019 alone, over 2,800 retail stores were closed down.

It goes without saying, that this is bad news - not just for high street locations, but for visitors, employees, and businesses, as well as for town councils; who are desperate to boost their respective tourism sectors.

Statistics, evidence and repercussions

In light of the footfall decline, the sectors suffering most significantly include restaurants, estate agents, pubs, and fashion-related commerce stores.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) (Aug 2020), high street stores only make up 13% of businesses in Britain, and employment numbers within the retail sector fell in more than three-quarters of local authorities (between 2015 – 2018).

The population is growing and so are our tourist numbers – so why are the high streets still declining?

Although visitor numbers have declined on high streets, the expectations for said numbers had been predicted as reaching a much higher figure.

What’s more, is that the Top 30 most historic cities found within Britain similarly reveal some rather saddening results (VisitBritain 2019). Although these cities may have a truly great historic importance for Britain, fewer and fewer people are visiting them each year.

With a clear change in visitor trends, as well as spending and travel patterns, the need to promote our historic British towns is now greater than ever.

By creating trails, and making our towns and villages more visible and accessible (via the use of technology) we should see a footfall rise for high streets across the nation.

Creating trails – the benefits

Creating trails can work as a natural incentive for visitors to spend more time (and money) on the high street. According to the VisitBritain Analysis (2019), the average spends when visiting the high street is £43.

There are often several interesting/historical buildings and structures to be seen on the high street. Most well-planned trails should and will usually cross through these areas, which will, in turn, influence spending patterns.

According to VisitBritain 2014, the strongest reason to visit a place is for its historic heritage. In addition to this, over 70% of U.S. travellers agree that they “always” use their smartphones when travelling, up from 41% in 2015 - (Google Consumer Insights 2018).

It seems as though the solution is simple, create trails and make them accessible for all. This will encourage both local tourists and visitors from further afield.

A shift in trends – mobile devices, accessibility and TrailTale’s solution

As part of our research at TrailTale, we have discovered that only 14% of the towns in Britain have a captivating trail. Unfortunately, most of these trails are paper-based and outdated.

With a change in technology, younger generations now tend to use mobile devices for their plans as well as activity consumption. Considering the rise in guided trails and walks in Britain, it seems necessary to create these in an easy and accessible manner; following the current technological trends.

At TrailTale, our solution is simple, it’s cost-effective, and it’s healthy. Our App is free, which will encourage most people to download it. We currently feature 100 routes that support around 89 different cities, towns and villages within the UK. TrailTale is an internationally recognised app, with users from over 175 countries downloading and using it.

Using trails in towns across Britain can be an incredibly inexpensive way to boost footfall numbers, and bring more business to both the towns as well as their high streets.  

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