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BRC/Springboard: February's dip in footfall underlines importance of business rates reform

Footfall in February was 2.9% lower than a year ago, down on the 1.6% rise in January and below the three-month average of -1.1%.

High streets reported the greatest fall, down 5.3%, which is the largest drop since March 2013. On a three-month basis reported a drop in footfall of 3.0%,

Footfall in out-of-town locations experienced a rise 2.3% while shopping centres fell by 2.4%.

All regions and countries with the exception of Greater London (-2.0%), East Midlands (-2.2%) and North & Yorkshire (-2.3%) reported footfall above the UK average of (-2.9%).

Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium Director General, said: "After the increase in UK shoppers we saw last month, we have seen a disappointing, but understandable, drop back in February. This is in-line with the low levels of growth we saw in our sales figures earlier this month.

"Our data is now building up a rich picture of how retailers created an exceptional and successful promotional period this January, but having taken advantage of those deals, some consumers have taken a little bit of a pause in their shopping in February.

"Overall the numbers of shoppers are down 2.9 per cent. The high street has seen the most challenging conditions, with footfall down 5.3 per cent on last year. This underlines how important it is we keep our focus on reform of business rates to keep costs down. Reform will help high street retailers invest in their offer and attract more people out to the shops, supporting local jobs and benefiting the wider economy."

Diane Wehrle, Retail Insights Director at Springboard, said: "With a drop in footfall of 2.9 per cent, it is clear that the exceptionally rainy weather in February impacted on our retail destinations, particularly as the fall of 5.3 per cent in high streets - which are the most exposed to the elements - exceeded the 2.4 per cent fall in shopping centres that benefit from a sheltered environment. The convenience of out of town locations – with parking that is easily accessible to the shops - meant that footfall increased by 2.3 per cent.

"For high streets the result is in sharp contrast to February 2013 when footfall increased by 2.7 per cent, and it is also the worst result for high streets since the 7.0 per cent drop recorded in March 2013. Despite this, however, gains early on over the last year meant that high streets are on par with shopping centres over the last 12 months with a drop of 1.9 per cent each. The star undoubtedly is out of town, where footfall rose over the 12 months to end of March by 0.1 per cent."

Source : Helen Dickinson - BRC Director General

17 March 2014
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