YORK’S struggling high street has suffered a further blow after it emerged that footfall in the city centre in the last nine months has plummeted by more than 750,000 visits.

And traders yesterday blamed a fall in consumer confidence, uncertainty over a potential no-deal Brexit and online competition for the drop in visitors.

Data collated by City of York Council and York Bid reveals that just over 18.5 million people entered the city centre between January and September this year – down by 765,786 compared to the same period last year - a fall of around four per cent.

Coney Street, which has seen a string of shops close down in recent years, has suffered a fall of 283,000 visitors over the same period - a drop of almost five per cent, while Stonegate dropped by 380,000, down seven per cent.

Micklegate and Parliament Street saw drops of 2.4 per cent and 0.85 per cent in footfall respectively.

The statistics are collected by the data company Spring Board through four cameras located in Stonegate, Micklegate, Coney Street and Parliament Street.

City tradesman and chairman of York Retail Forum Phil Pinder said his and other businesses had seen a fall in footfall this year due to lower consumer confidence.

He said: “It is obvious that Brexit has affected consumer spending - as well as the rise in online companies. The banks are recalling debts - as we have seen with Pizza Express - over Brexit uncertainty which is leading to a reduction in consumer spending.

“Retailers have seen a fall in footfall but tourism spending has actually increased in some sectors, primarily from international visitors spending their money in York.”

A spokesman for York Bid added that while footfall gives an indication of how a city is performing, it doesn’t give the full picture on spending, and it was looking at technology solutions to paint a clearer picture.

Labour spokesperson for the economy, Cllr Claire Douglas, said: “Popular tourism destinations like York have unfortunately been hit to an extent by the Brexit effect, with visitors from other EU countries dropping between July and September in 2018 from 2017.

“The Brexit effect - in particular, a no-deal Brexit - as well as the increasing market share from internet sales are responsible for lower footfall on the high street. Internet sales are expected to rise from 20 per cent to 50 per cent of all retail sales within 10 years. In this turbulent time for the high street, we must fully support our local independent shops and develop a clear plan for how the city centre will be used.”

Cllr Andrew Waller, the council’s executive member for economy and strategic planning, said: “We continue our work with the BID, Make It York and York Retail Forum ensure that all businesses, visitors and residents in York City Centre have the best experience.

“We have also begun work on My City Centre, a York project that looks to address the current challenges facing the high street.

“The project will address residents and businesses, to help deliver a strategic vision that will shape the future of York city centre.”