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Better weather helps March footfall

High Street and retail parks see increase despite ‘no-splurge culture’

FOOTFALL increased last month – up 1.4 per cent overall with the High Street seeing a 2.5 per cent increase on the previous year.

However, the good news is tempered by the fact the rise has to be set against the six per cent decline registered in the five weeks to March 30, 2018, but both High Streets and Retail Parks saw increases above their three-month average.
The figures from the latest British Retail Consortium-Springboard Footfall & Vacancies Monitor show retailers are caught up in the current so-called “no-splurge culture” with consumers going for prudence over splashing out.
The BRC said the better weather in March 2019 helped the figures, increasing by more than 17 per cent compared with the week the Beast From The East was harrying the country a year ago.
Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director for retail intelligence firm Springboard, said: “At first sight the year on year rise in footfall of 1.4 per cent in March 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, while 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 ofsix 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.
“The result clearly indicates that we continue to be in the midst of a no splurge culture. With consumer confidence continuing to languish, shoppers are clearly focussed on prudence.
“This becomes very obvious when looking at footfall in each week, with the month being bookended by two strong weeks while footfall plunged in the middle three weeks.
“The most significant uplift this year occurred in the first week of the month when footfall rose by 17.6 per cent against the same week in 2018, when the Beast From The East hit the UK causing footfall to drop by 16.6 per cent.
“The second positive week – in the last week of the month – contrasts with the Good Friday/Easter Saturday week last year when the UK was once again beset by poor weather which caused footfall to drop by 1.3 per cent, hence a rise of 1.2 per cent in the same week this year.”
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson added: “Retailers will be relieved to see footfall up from last year though this is was heavily influenced by the weather. While shoppers in 2018 were contending with the Beast From The East, this March has been mild by comparison. Unfortunately, the higher footfall has not translated into higher spending.
“The data also showed that shopping centres continue to suffer, with 24 consecutive months of decline in footfall. It’s 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. Furthermore, Government can support this transformation by reforming the outdated business system which holds back firms from investing in physical space.”

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