April retail footfall boosted by Easter holidays
UK retail footfall rose by 1.6% year-on-year in April to mark the fastest growth since March 2014.
The figures from the British Retail Consortium and Springboard’s retail footfall monitor reveal that the increase comprised a 5% rise in the first half of the month – which culminated in Good Friday and Easter Saturday – and dropped 6.4% in the last two weeks.
During April footfall in high streets was up 2.3% while footfall in retail parks climbed by 2.7%. Footfall in shopping centres edged down 0.6%.
Helen Dickinson, BRC chief executive, said: “The Easter holidays boosted family visits to shopping destinations in April, resulting in the fastest annual growth of footfall since March 2014. The inclusion of the holidays in this period will have distorted this figure but even looking beyond this, the picture over the last quarter has been largely positive.”
Easter staycations boosted footfall by 5.1% in coastal towns and by 7.9% in historic towns. The underlying structural shift towards leisure-focused trips meant that whilst high street footfall rose 1.9% during retail trading hours, trips to high streets after 5pm increased by more than 3%.
Meanwhile, the national town centre vacancy rate was 9.3% in April, down from 9.4% in January 2017. This was largely due to sharp declines in Greater London and the East.
Diane Wehrle, Springboard marketing and insights director, said the overall decline in vacancy rate had disguised increases in vacancies in all areas apart from in London, the East and the North & Yorkshire.
She added: “The vacancy rate is perhaps a portent of things to come; inflationary pressures are likely to increase, which could suppress customer behaviour and therefore occupier demand, notwithstanding the emergence of new occupiers who initially tend to focus on London.”
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