High street suffers steepest drop in footfall in eight years

Image credit: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

The UK’s high street has experienced the most substantial decline in footfall in eight years, which dipped by 6% in March compared to last year’s 1.3% growth, for the same month.

That’s according to the latest figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC), which claimed that between 25th February and 31st March 2018 there was no growth in footfall for any UK regions and blamed the decline on the cold weather.

The most notable declines (year-on-year) were seen in Greater London (-7.5%), South East (-6.5%), and in the East Midlands (-5.6%).

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Growth fell in all shopping destinations with high streets seeing a decline of 8.6%, compared to 1.8% in retail parks and nearly 5% in shopping centres.

Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the BRC, said that while 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.

“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: “Comparing the weekly trend with annual change in footfall enables us to see the fundamentals underlying shopper activity.

“So whilst footfall was hit hard in the first week of the month, declining by -17.1% from the week before, it bounced back, rising by +25.5% in the second week and by an average of +2.3% over the month, demonstrating that deferred trips were reinstated when the weather improved.”

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