Bad Weather Sees UK Retail Footfall Drop 6.0% In March
A double salvo of winter storms in March caused retail footfall in the UK to drop by 6.0% in March, which was a substantial decline on the 1.3% increase in footfall in March of last year.
It was also the steepest year-on-year fall since the end of 2010, according to the BRC – Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor.
No UK regions saw an increase in footfall for the month, with the most notable declines (year-on-year) seen in Greater London, -7.5%, South East, -6.5%, and in the East Midlands, -5.6%.
High street sales were down 8.6%, with retail parks down 1.8% and shopping centres falling by 4.8%.
“The severe weather put paid to any glimmer of hope for an uplift in shopper activity in March," commented Diane Wehrle, Springboard marketing and insights director.
"Hitting the week following the pay day weekend was the worst timing possible as it meant that shoppers who had available budget deferred trips. A proportion of this was made up over Easter, with footfall in shopping centres and retail parks rising from last Easter but this was more than offset by the impact of the heavy rain on high streets. Indeed, throughout the month we were able to track the impact on footfall each day as adverse weather moved across the UK."
Wehrle also noted that while the winter weather did impact the figures, there are signs that there is also reduced shopper activity taking place, with lower consumer confidence "arising from ongoing economic constraints attached to current price inflation and concern for the future, exacerbated by the underlying structural shift in consumer habits away from purely transaction based activity towards activity with a leisure focus.”
Analyst Clive Black of Shore Capital Stockbrokers added that the " retail sector will be hoping for an improved outlook in April with better, more seasonal weather, together with the recent GfK data highlighting rising consumer confidence and the ONS inflationary data suggesting that UK living standards are starting to stabilise."
© 2018 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.