Slow start to spring as footfall declines

After an early Easter fuelled improved footfall performance in March, there is little doubt lacklustre levels of store visits in April will have come as a blow for many retailers.

According to BRC-Sensormatic IQ data, Total UK footfall decreased by 7.2% in April (YoY), down from -1.3% in March.

High Street footfall decreased by 6.9% in April (YoY), down from -1.5% in March. Retail Park footfall decreased by 6.2% in April (YoY), down from -3.5% in March. Shopping Centre footfall decreased by 7.2%% in April (YoY), down from 0.3% in March.

All UK nations saw a fall in footfall year-on-year, with Scotland decreasing by 3.6% YoY – the smallest drop in footfall, England down by 7.4% YoY, Wales declining by 8.1% YoY and Northern Ireland down by 11.1% YoY – the largest drop in footfall.

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “While UK footfall was impacted by poor weather last month, this was artificially exacerbated by the comparison with 2023, when Easter was in April. All locations saw declines on the previous month, and nearly all major cities performed similarly poorly. However, there was good news in Edinburgh, where footfall was positive once again owing to the investment in local shopping locations in the Scottish capital over the past few years.

“It is now vital that elected councillors, mayors and Police and Crime Commissioners all play their part in designing the right planning, transport and neighbourhood safety policies to create thriving shopping destinations in communities across the country. These actions, locally and nationally, can contribute to boosting footfall and revitalising retail centres.”

Andy Sumpter, Retail Consultant EMEA for Sensormatic Solutions, commented: “Whilst a drop in traffic may have been expected due to Easter falling early and the May bank holiday falling late, this will have been of little consolation.

“An exceptionally wet April also seems to have dampened many shoppers’ appetite for spending, especially in outlet and outdoor focused retailers. However, with financial pressures starting to ease for some, and indications of growing consumer confidence being reported, we will have to look forward to May to see if that filters through to improved in-store shopping.”

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