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Retail footfall declines in February

Retail footfall has declined by 1.1% in February compared with the same period last year, according to the British Retail Consortium

[box type=”shadow” align=”” class=”” width=””]UK Summary

  • Footfall in February was 1.1% down on a year ago, lower than the 1.2% rise seen in January and lower than the three-month average rate of -0.8%.
  • Footfall in retail park locations increased 2.5% year-on-year, down from the 5.2% rise in January. Both High Streets and Shopping Centres reported a decline in February, falling 2.9% and 0.6% respectively.
  • The South West and Greater London were the only regions to report a rise in footfall, up 0.4% and 0.2% respectively on a year ago. Notable declines were seen in Northern Ireland and Scotland which fell 5.1% and 3.1% respectively.[/box]

Helen Dickinson OBE, BRC Chief Executive, said: “While footfall last month eased down a touch in both year-on-year and three-month totals, these relatively tepid figures do not fully reflect the changing nature of retail as an industry. Retailers are competing with each other harder than ever. The business of retailing is increasingly complex as technology continues to drive changes in the way we shop.

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“Recent policy announcements, in particular the National Living Wage and the introduction of the apprenticeship levy, will increase the pace of some of these changes as well as the cumulative burden faced by retailers. We hope that the Chancellor in his forthcoming Budget will recognise both the burdens facing retailers as well as our importance to the UK’s economy and communities. The government must support retailers to allow us to continue to invest and play our part in a strong recovery.”

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Diane Wehrle, Marketing and Insights Director at Springboard, said: “The drop in footfall again last month is consistent with long term underlying trends identified by Springboard from tracking activity across destination types, geographies and time periods. Visits are becoming increasingly focused out of town and in the early evening, with footfall after 5pm rising since January 2014 whilst dropping during the daytime period.

“The “5pm to 8pm social” period are becoming important trading hours with spend focussed towards hospitality and leisure, and destinations with a buoyant restaurant offer, providing the right environment and price points make out of home dining and socialising easy, attractive and affordable.

“The results last month typify this underlying change. The drop in footfall across the UK was driven by the decline of 2.9 per cent in the high street, seemingly due to the tough retail trading environment, although an increase in footfall of 2.5 per cent in retail parks reflects strong furniture and household goods sales.

“A closer look at high street footfall in February reveals a 0.2 per cent uplift during the early evening period, whilst footfall during daytime hours dropped by 3.9 per cent, a strong indicator that visits to retail destinations are becoming about more than just retail.  All indicators are pointing to the need for retail to harness this momentum and encourage convergence – blending of offer and opportunity – and position it equally alongside the three retail necessities of choice, customer service and convenience.”

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