Early Easter fails to reverse the overall footfall decline

According to the BRC-Sensormatic IQ data monitor, total UK footfall decreased by 1.3% in March, an improvement on the -6.2% drop in February.

High street footfall decreased by 1.5% in March, up from -9.3% in February, while retail park footfall was -3.5% in March, up from -5.8% in February and shopping centre footfall increased by +0.3% in March, from -7.0% in February.

Helen Dickinson, CEO of the BRC, said: “Overall UK footfall declined in March as the wet weather kept shoppers indoors. Northern Ireland and Wales bucked the trend while shopping centres across the UK also saw a year-on-year increase in footfall, primarily driven by the start of the school holidays. The early Easter meant footfall rose across the UK in the final week of March, particularly in English cities such as Birmingham and Liverpool, but this was not enough to reverse the overall decline over the course of the month.

“As we draw closer to a general election, these figures highlight how vital it is for all parties to include a clear and comprehensive plan for growth in their manifestos. As the everywhere economy, retail serves all of us, providing the products we need as well as local jobs and investment. Instead of imposing burdensome costs on the industry, parties should focus on reforming business taxes and improving planning policy to help put life back into communities up and down the country.”

Andy Sumpter, retail consultant EMEA for Sensormatic Solutions, added: “An early, high-performing Easter helped put a spring in shoppers’ steps and this, combined with a boost from Mother’s Day and ambient store visits from school holidays, drove up shopper traffic numbers in March to improve on what was a rather muted footfall performance in February.

“While retailers will have welcomed the seasonal uplift in store visits last month, the choppy nature of footfall recovery we’ve seen over the past few months indicates that consumer confidence is yet to fully turn a corner, meaning we may see a bumpy recovery in shopper traffic in the months ahead.”

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