Driven by an early Easter and bad weather conditions, footfall in March 2016 was down by 2.7% compared to the same period last year.
According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor the March decline in footfall was lower than the 1.1% fall in February 2016. On a three month basis, footfall declined by 1.0% in March.
High street footfall declined 3.9% in March, lower than the 2.9% decline in February, whilst shopping centre footfall decline by 3.7%, which is significantly below the 0.6% decline reported last month.
Elsewhere footfall in retail park locations increased 1.6% year-on-year, down from the 2.5% rise in February.
Helen Dickinson OBE, BRC chief executive, comments: “The near 4% decline in footfall on our high streets and in shopping centres is partially caused by the distortion of the timing of Easter. It is, however, also a continuation of a longer term trend caused by on-going structural change within the retail industry.
“Customers don’t differentiate between buying online, on a mobile device or in-store and often combine two or more different channels when they shop. Therefore, as well as their significant investment in digital, retailers know they also need to continually improve their physical stores to ensure an ever changing and more exciting shopping experience. The ongoing decline in levels of footfall highlights the significance of this structural change.”
Springboard marketing and insights director, Diane Wehrle, says an early Easter is always a challenge for retail destinations as the bank holiday traditionally kick starts demand for spring fashion.
Wehrle adds: “Adverse weather when new season stock comes in significantly impacts shopping trips. The widespread coverage across the UK of Storm Katie, and overall a cold March, meant that footfall dropped in all regions and nations, with a drop of more than 2% in 7 of the 10 different areas.”
Despite a decline in footfall, the report notes that footfall was more resilient this March than in March 2013, when Easter also fell early and footfall dropped by 5.2%.