Footfall in April increased by 1.6% on the same month in the previous year, the fastest growth since March 2014.
This is well above the three-month average of 0.7%, which is the first positive three-month average since May 2014, and the highest since February 2012.
The BRC-Springboard UK retail monitor reports that a 2.3% high street footfall growth in April, the fastest boost since March 2014. This was ahead of the three-month average of 1.4%.
Elsewhere, footfall to retail park destinations grew by 2.7% in April, the fastest growth since January 2016, and well ahead of the three-month average of 0.9%, while shopping centre footfall fell by 0.6% in April, a slower decline than the three-month average of -0.9%.
“As Easter fell in April this year, as opposed to March last year, footfall was boosted by +1.6 per cent,” says Springboard marketing and insights director, Diane Wehrle. “This rise was fuelled by the weakened pound, which drove an increase in overseas tourists – demonstrated by the +2.7 per cent uplift in footfall in London’s West End in April – and in Easter staycations amongst domestic visitors.”
Easter staycations increased by 5.1% in coastal towns and 7.9% in historic towns. The underlying structural shift towards leisure-focussed trips meant that whilst high street footfall rose by 1.9% during retail trading hours, trips to high streets after 5pm increased by more than 3%.
“The vacancy rate also improved very slightly in April to 9.3 per cent from 9.4 per cent in January, but this disguises increases in vacancies in all areas apart from in London, the East and the North & Yorkshire,” adds Wehrle. “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.”