Shoppers desert the high street during Easter

The UK high street suffered another blow today after new figures revealed that more shoppers stayed away from stores last month.
According to the BRC-Springboard footfall and vacancies monitor for March, retail footfall [the number of people physically walking into stores] during the month was down 2.7% on a year ago, lower than the 1.1% fall in February.
It said high street footfall had suffered most with footfall declining 3.9%, lower than the 2.9% decline in February. Shopping centre footfall slipped by 3.7%, well below the 0.6% decline reported in February.
Footfall in retail park locations increased by 1.6% but was down from the 2.5% rise in the previous month.
“The decline in footfall on our high streets and in shopping centres is partially caused by the distortion of the timing of Easter. It is, however, also a continuation of a longer term trend caused by on-going structural change within the retail industry,” said Helen Dickinson, BRC chief executive. “Customers don’t differentiate between buying online, on a mobile device or in-store and often combine two or more different channels when they shop. Therefore, as well as their significant investment in digital, retailers know they also need to continually improve their physical stores to ensure an ever-changing and more exciting shopping experience. We also know that declining footfall makes it harder to keep shops open and profitable. Areas that are already economically fragile are likely to see the greatest impact of future store closures.”
Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard also blamed Easter and cold weather in March for keeping people away from the high street. “An early Easter is always a challenged for retailers as the bank holiday traditionally kick-starts demand for Spring fashion and household purchasing. Adverse weather when new season stock comes in significantly impacts shopping trips,” she said.