March witnessed footfall growth for the first time in over a year, according to Springboard, a provider of automated customer counting services.
The results found that between March 1 and April 4 footfall was up by 0.2% YOY for the month, following increasing consumer confidence and an early start to Easter.
“Footfall across the UK increased by 0.2 % in March, the first increase in a year and only the third increase in the last 20 months”, said Diane Wehrle, Retail Insights Director at Springboard.
The main growth was found in shopping centres, which saw increases for the first time since January 2014. Retail parks saw a 3.8% footfall increase, pushing their popularity in the last few years.
However, the high street suffered with a 1.4% decrease in footfall, as vacancy rates remained above 10%.
Retail Parks benefitted from the fact that Easter began two weeks earlier. This meant that trading on Good Friday and Easter Sunday fell in March rather than April. Retail parks played a key role in distributing products,as they provided primary locations for many click and collect services.
Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium Director General said “Out-of-town locations led the way in March with its fifteenth straight month of footfall growth. This story was echoed in shopping centres which posted its largest rise in shopper numbers since January 2014”.
However, it wasn’t just high streets that caused problems, footfall changes were based on specific areas. Scotland and the East provided higher footfall than the UK average, with the latter recording a 3.4% increase.
In comparison, the South East witnessed a 3.6% drop in shoppers numbers, while the East Midlands saw its footfall rate slow to 0.6%.
Though the rise was mainly down to the time Easter fell, Dickinson was pleased with the overall ‘promising’ results that March achieved:
“These results show the ongoing transformational change in the retail industry with the blurring lines of physical and digital making these figures difficult to read in their monthly isolation.