Footfall falls fast for February
Written by Peter Walker
Footfall in February fell by two per cent, a significant decline compared to the previous year where it fell by 0.2 per cent.
This is the fifteenth month of consecutive decline and was the weakest February in five years, according to the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard figures.
High Street footfall declined by 1.9 per cent, marking seven consecutive months of weakening for this shopping location. This was a deeper decline relative to the previous year, when footfall fell by 1.2 per cent.
Retail Parks footfall declined by 0.8 per cent, a sharp decline on last year when it grew by 1.4 per cent.
Shopping Centre footfall declined by 3.4 per cent, a deeper decline than last year’s fall of 0.9 per cent. No region experienced growth in this shopping location in February.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson noted that these figures echo the month’s poor retail sales figures, which saw weak growth, particularly in bricks and mortar stores.
“Things could get a lot worse unless the government is able to avoid a calamitous no deal Brexit,” she stated. “Such a scenario would likely result in higher costs, higher prices and less choice for consumers – all of which would further harm struggling retailers.”
Diane Wehrle, Springboard marketing and insights director, pointed out that February’s falls occurred despite the fact that the month this year was the hottest on record.
“However, the record temperatures only occurred in the final week of the month when footfall rose by 2.5 per cent compared with drops in each of the preceding three weeks, averaging a fall of 3.6 per cent.
“Indeed, the balmy conditions certainly helped high streets where footfall rose by 4.5 per cent in the last week of the month compared with an average drop of 4.1 per cent in the preceding three weeks,” she added.
Footfall declined in all but one geographical area and in all but two areas the drop was greater than two per cent, with a fall of just 1.4 per cent in Greater London.
“The result for London will in part have been due to Chinese New Year occurring in February this year, but it is actually not an unusual outcome as footfall in Greater London is generally the last to decline and the first to recover due to the diversity of its economy and sheer volume of activity,” explained Wehrle.