Fifth monthly footfall drop as March dips 1.9%

April's poor weather has dampened footfall on the high street,

First week of Easter down on 2009 as bad weather puts shoppers off.

Overall retail footfall in March fell year-on-year and the first week of the Easter holidays showed disappointing comparisons with last year’s holiday.

For the fifth consecutive month, March recorded lower retail footfall in the UK, with a year-on-year drop of 1.9 percent, according to Synovate Retail Performance’s Retail Traffic Index (RTI), which measures shopper numbers entering non-food stores. This was a slightly sharper year-on-year decline than in February, which registered a drop of 1.3 percent, but foot fall rose 3.6 percent month-on-month in March.

Synovate director of retail intelligence Tim Denison said: "A year-on-year fall in footfall is never welcome news to retailers, but the March figures indicate that shoppers are showing some signs of emerging from their deep recessionary hibernation. Granted, it is more of a tiptoe than a confident march forward, but some heart can be taken from the uplift on February, above the seasonal average. We need to be mindful of the timing of Easter though, which always makes it difficult to draw strong conclusions about any underlying trend at this time of the year."

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The Easter break created a year-on-year peak in footfall, with the last week of March – the first week of the Easter holidays – registering a 1.7 percent rise compared with the same calendar week last year. However, comparables with the first week of the Easter holidays last year, which were a week later than this year, were less favourable with footfall down 8.5 percent.

Denison said: "Poor weather across the country did retailers no favours over the first week of the Easter period but we should await the outcome of the second week before making any assessment about the level of shopping activity over Easter as a whole.”

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