Retail footfall plummets in April to mark
UK retail footfall plummeted in April as rainy weather at the start of the month deterred people from going out shopping.
According to figures from the British Retail Consortium and Springboard, footfall was down 3.3% year-on-year following a 6% decline in March, thereby marking an “unprecedented” 4.8% drop over the two-month period.
High street footfall was down 4% while footfall in shopping centres and retail parks fell by 3.5% and 1.8% respectively.
Although footfall recovered to an average rise of 1.5% in the last two weeks of the period as the weather improved, it was not enough to repair the damage.
Diane Wehrle, Springboard marketing and insights director, said: “Much could be made of the adverse impact on April’s footfall of Easter shifting to March, but even looking at March and April together – so smoothing this out – still demonstrates that footfall has plummeted.
“A 3.3% drop in April, following on from -6% in March, resulted in an unprecedented drop of 4.8% over the two months. Not since the depths of recession in 2009, has footfall over March and April declined to such a degree, and even then the drop was less severe at 3.8%.”
None of the UK regions saw any growth in footfall although most saw a slower rate of decline. However, footfall in Northern Ireland fell sharply by 7.3% from a 1.8% fall in the previous month.
Meanwhile the national town centre vacancy rate was 9.2% in April, up from 8.9% in January. All regions saw an increase in the vacancy rate, except Greater London where the rate dropped to 3.6% from 5.6% in January.
Helen Dickinson, BRC chief executive said: “A wet start to April had a dampening effect on visits across the UK’s shopping locations adding to the long term downward in footfall resulting from changing consumer behaviour.
“While these figures highlight the difficulties faced by retailers, they also point to the evolution of the industry. Retailers are embracing changing customer behaviour and adapting to a challenging environment by rebalancing investment in physical and digital infrastructure. Policy-makers can help support our industry and the re-making of our high streets by creating a progressive policy environment that allows retailers to adapt successfully.”
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