Better weather shines on March footfall

UK retail footfall increased by 1.4 per cent in March, compared to a six per cent fall the previous year, according to the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard figures.

On a three-month basis, footfall dropped by 0.3 per cent, while the six and 12-month averages were both down by 1.4 per cent.

However, High Street footfall increased by 2.5 per cent, against a decline of 8.6 per cent in March 2018.

Retail park footfall also increased by 1.5 per cent, in contrast to March 2018, when footfall decreased by 1.8 per cent.

Shopping centre footfall fell by one per cent though, although this was against a decline of 4.8 per cent last March – now the 24th month of consecutive decline.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said the statistics are heavily influenced by the weather year-on-year, as while shoppers in 2018 were contending with the ‘Beast from the East’ storms, this March has been mild by comparison.

“The data also showed that shopping centres continue to suffer, with 24 consecutive months of decline in footfall,” she commented. “It is vital that all different shopping locations are fit for the future, offering the mix of retail and experience-led opportunities that generate the necessary footfall to succeed.”

Diane Wehrle, Springboard’s marketing and insights director, noted that a first sight the year-on-year rise in footfall appears to signify a reverse in trend from the previous two years, when footfall dropped in all but two of the past 22 months.

“However, whilst news of an improvement in footfall would be most welcome, it is simply not the case and instead the rise of 1.4 per cent should be regarded as an exceptional circumstance relating to a dramatic slump in footfall in March 2018 of six per cent – indeed, this was by far the worst monthly result of the year and adversely influenced the outcome for footfall in 2018 as a whole.”

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