Retail footfall strengthened last month, industry data showed on Friday, as good weather and Easter encouraged consumers to head to the shops.
According the latest BRC-Sensormatic IQ Footfall Monitor, total UK footfall decreased by 13.1% in April compared to the same month three years earlier, pre-pandemic. The figure was better than the three-month average of -15.1%, while in March, footfall fell 15.4% year-on-three-years.
On high streets, footfall was 17.2% down against April 2019, a 0.6 percentage point improvement on the previous month. Retail parks and shopping centres recorded footfall declines of 4.0% and 27.6%, respectively a 3.3 percentage point and 8.2 percentage point improvement on March.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “April saw another encouraging improvement to UK footfall, as the spring sunshine and Easter festivities brought consumers back to stores.
“After a slow start, as the weather improved customers were more inclined to visit their favourite shopping destinations.”
However, she cautioned: “While footfall continues to make its return towards pre-pandemic levels, consumer confidence saw a different trend, falling to its lowest levels since the 2008 financial crisis. Shoppers are now being forced to make tough decisions in the face of rising inflation and higher energy prices, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.
“This threatens to stall improvements to footfall as consumers rein in discretionary spending.”
Andy Sumpter, retail consultant, EMEA, at Sensormatic Solutions, said: “As UK shoppers feel the pinch of the rising cost of living, and face downward pressure on their disposal incomes, conversions and basket sizes risk being reduced, so retailers – especially non-discounters or value brands – will need to work even harder to earn share of wallet and loyalty.”
On Thursday the Bank of England put up interest rates to 1%, the highest level for 13 years, as it looked to tackle soaring inflation, which it forecast would reach more than 10% by the end of the year.