Footfall in February grew 0.8 per cent on a year earlier as shopper numbers increased, signalling an improvement on the high street, according to new data released today.
Showing an improvement on the 4.6 per cent total decline in January, high street footfall jumped 2.7 per cent compared with a year earlier, representing the strongest growth since December 2011.
Footfall in shopping centres and out-of-town locations dipped 1.6 per cent and 1.5 per cent respectively, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC)/Springboard Footfall Monitor, which emphasised that this is “a signficant improvement on January’s figures.”
Earlier this month, it was reported that UK retail like-for-like sales rose 2.7 per cent, their fastest rate in over four years and Helen Dickinson, BRC Director General, welcomed the upward trend.
Describing February’s figures as a “respectable result”, Dickinson noted that conversion rates have seen an improvement and added: “Compared against the widespread regional variations seen in January, it’s really encouraging to see improvements in footfall across the board.
“However, the link between the number of shops and shoppers is plain to see; the lowest footfall was in the North and Yorkshire, which has England’s highest vacancy rate.
“February 2013 was generally milder than the snow-hit month we saw the previous year, which is a surefire factor behind High Streets posting their best result since December 2011.
“This is definitely the standout story for February, but it’s only the third time in twelve months that high street footfall rates have edged over zero.
“Retailers will be hoping that Wednesday’s Budget delivers concrete measures to build on this boost and put more money in people’s pockets.”
Last week, British mothers called on the Government to reduce the cost of living and use the Budget announcement to decrease utility costs and scrap the 3p fuel duty rise as discretionary income continues to fall.
However, today’s figures represent a boost to the sector and Diane Wehrle, Research Director at Springboard, pointed to the diversity of the high street as the cause of growth.
Wehrle concluded: “For the high street, one swallow does not make a summer, but these results might hint at the green shoots of recovery, or at least some stabilisation in the current environment.”