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February drop in footfall underlines case for business rates reform says the BRC

The British Retail Consortium has said a dip in retail footfall in February has underlined the importance of business rates reform.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

February drop in footfall underlines case for business rates reform says the BRC

According to figures released by the BRC and Springboard in their monthly footfall monitor, footfall was 2.9% lower in February than the same month last year and down on the 1.6% rise seen in January.

High streets reported the greatest fall at 5.3%, which was the biggest drop since March 2013, as people put off going out shopping in the wet weather. However, footfall in out-of-town locations experienced a 2.3% rise although shopping centres saw footfall drop by 2.4%.

BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: "After the increase in UK shoppers we saw last month, we have seen a disappointing, but understandable, drop back in February. This is in-line with the low levels of growth we saw in our sales figures earlier this month.

"Our data is now building up a rich picture of how retailers created an exceptional and successful promotional period this January, but having taken advantage of those deals, some consumers have taken a little bit of a pause in their shopping in February.”

The BRC said the high street had seen the most challenging conditions which underlined the importance of reforms to business rates to help retailers keep costs down. Dickinson added: “Reform will help high street retailers invest in their offer and attract more people out to the shops, supporting local jobs and benefiting the wider economy."

Diane Wehrle, retail insights director at Springboard, said: "It is clear that the exceptionally rainy weather in February impacted on our retail destinations, particularly as the fall of 5.3% in high streets exceeded the 2.4% fall in shopping centres that benefit from a sheltered environment.

“Despite this, however, gains early on over the last year meant that high streets are on par with shopping centres over the last 12 months with a drop of 1.9% each. The star undoubtedly is out of town, where footfall rose over the 12 months to end of March by 0.1%."

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