Footfall fell by 2.9% year-on-year in April, quieter than the forecast of -0.3%, according to the latest Ipsos Retail Performance Retail Traffic Index.
Footfall over the Easter fortnight was 8.5% lower than last year, despite falling three weeks later this year. However, when compared with March, average weekly footfall was 6.1% stronger, but this represented over 3 points lower than expected.
The firm said ordinarily Easter falling at this time would provide an 8% boost to footfall compared with the same April fortnight of the previous year, but this year it registered no growth.
Dr Tim Denison, director of retail intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance, said: “Traditionally a late Easter is a great fillip to the DIY and Garden Centre sector, as householders jump to spring cleaning their homes and tidying their gardens. The sun and record temperatures put pay to that this year with paint pots and lawnmowers being swapped for buckets and spades.
“You can’t really blame consumers for choosing sunshine over shopping as their means of therapy over Easter. There is little to beat vitamin D at this time of year, especially at a time of low national morale.”
He added: “April’s results are all the more disappointing for stores given that footfall in quarter one delivered a recovery in the year-on-year trend. The first three months of 2019 saw footfall decline by only -1.1% on the same period the year before, compared to a -3.9% deficit in Q4 2018.
“The changing time of Easter every year makes trend paths difficult to establish at this time of year, but given we would have anticipated April’s footfall to be up on last year, the outlook doesn’t look too favourable for May. That said I have already burned many of my forecasting lives, so I’m reserving my remaining ones for more predictable times.”