No spring in step for March shopper footfall

Shopper footfall fell by 6% in March, the steepest year-on-year drop since the end of 2010, figures show.

The substantial decline for the five weeks to March 31 - compared with an average 1.4% drop over the last year - was seen mostly in Greater London, down 7.5%, the South East (minus 6.5%) and in the East Midlands (minus 5.6%) according to the BRC-Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor.

There was no growth in footfall for any UK region.

Growth fell in all shopping destinations, with the high street suffering a decline of 8.6%, shopping centres down 4.8% and retail parks down 1.8%.

British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson said: "Whilst the prolonged period of bad weather has had an impact on shoppers visiting the high street, we are seeing a longer term trend of reduced footfall which highlights that shoppers face more choice in terms of how, where and when they shop.

"The retail environment is changing and retailers are investing in innovation and technology adaptations in response to this.

"Policy-makers must also play their part with a vision for a modern business taxation system which reflects this new environment."

Diane Wehrle, Springboard marketing and insights director, said: "The severe weather put paid to any glimmer of hope for an uplift in shopper activity in March. Hitting the week following the pay day weekend was the worst timing possible as it meant that shoppers who had available budget deferred trips."

"Indeed, throughout the month we were able to track the impact on footfall each day as adverse weather moved across the UK."

Ms Wehrle said the annual decline was "undoubtedly a function of low consumer confidence arising from ongoing economic constraints attached to current price inflation and concern for the future".

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