Footfall in February fell by 2.0%, a significant decline compared to the previous year where it posted a 0.2% decline.
This marks the fifteenth month of consecutive decline and the weakest February in five years.
British Retail Consortium chief executive officer, Helen Dickinson, remarks: “Consumers have been cautious in their spending, leading to the biggest drop in February footfall for five years. These figures echo the month’s poor retail sales figures, which saw weak growth, particularly in bricks-and-mortar stores. While real incomes have been rising over the last year, the uncertainty surrounding Brexit appears to be driving a needs-not-wants approach to shopping.”
High street footfall declined by 1.9%, marking seven consecutive months of weakening for this shopping location. This was a deeper decline relative to the previous year when footfall fell by 1.2%.
Retail parks experience a 0.8% dip, a sharp decline on last year when it grew by 1.4%. The East Midlands and Wales however reported notable growth in this shopping location of 3.0% and 1.4%, respectively.
Elsewhere shopping centre footfall decreased by 3.4%, a deeper decline than last year’s fall of 0.9%. No region experienced growth in this shopping location throughout the month of February.
“Things could get a lot worse unless the Government is able to avoid a calamitous no deal Brexit. Such a scenario would likely result in higher costs, higher prices and less choice for consumers – all of which would further harm struggling retailers. The Government must act to protect both consumers and retailers by ensuring there is no chance of a no deal Brexit,” says Springboard marketing and insights director, Diane Wehrle.
She continues: “The -2% drop in footfall in February – a significant worsening from -0.5% in February 2018 – occurred despite the fact that February this year was the hottest on record. However, the record temperatures only occurred in the final week of the month when footfall rose by +2.5% compared with drops in each of the preceding three weeks, averaging -3.6%. Indeed, the balmy conditions certainly helped high streets where footfall rose by +4.5% in the last week of the month compared with an average drop of – 4.1% in the preceding three weeks.”