'Unprecedented drop' in store footfall over March and April

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Wet weather and a squeeze on consumer spending resulted in a 3.3% drop in the number of people visiting stores last month, contributing to an “unprecedented” drop in footfall over March and April, according to figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC)-Springboard footfall and vacancies monitor.

The decline in footfall was less severe than the 6% fall in March, but the figures still represented a 4.8% decline over the two-month period - a decline not seen since the recession in 2009.

Springboard marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle said: “Much could be made of the adverse impact on April’s footfall of Easter shifting to March, but even looking at March and April together still demonstrates that footfall has plummeted. A -3.3% drop in April, following on from -6% in March, resulted in an unprecedented drop of -4.8% over the two months.”

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson OBE added: “A wet start to April had a dampening effect on visits across the UK’s shopping locations adding to the long term downward in footfall resulting from changing consumer behaviour. That shift in the way we shop, coupled with a highly challenging business environment, is having a significant impact on the nation’s high streets: in April nearly one in 10 shops in town centres was vacant.

”While these figures highlight the difficulties faced by retailers, they also point to the evolution of the industry. Retailers are embracing changing customer behaviour and adapting to a challenging environment by rebalancing investment in physical and digital infrastructure. Policy-makers can help support our industry and the re-making of our high streets by creating a progressive policy environment that allows retailers to adapt successfully.”

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