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High street footfall down over wet bank holiday weekend

Warmer weather and dry spells on Sunday boosted the number of visitors to the UK's shops during an otherwise rain-lashed Bank Holiday weekend.

Wet weather contributed to an overall 8.3 per cent decline in year-on-year footfall figures across high streets, retail parks and shopping centres on Saturday, on a crucial weekend for trading, retail data experts said.

The figure included a plunge of 19 per cent for high streets as shoppers appeared to take shelter in out-of-town retail parks and shopping centres.

Better weather appeared to improve prospects for the shops on Sunday, with overall footfall for high streets, retail parks and shopping centres increasing by 4.7 per cent compared with a year earlier.

Shoppers set to spend more than £100bn online for the first time this year as more people use smartphones for web purchases

Out-of-town retail parks and shopping centres saw a rise in footfall over the whole weekend of 10.1 per cent and 3.7 per cent respectively compared to the year before.

But the number of visitors to the high street on Sunday remained low, registering a 4 per cent fall compared to the year before.

Diane Wehrle, of Springboard, which gathers the footfall data, said: ‘Hopeful for strong trading this weekend, retailers held their breath in the face of the unpredictable nature of the British summer.
‘The story on Saturday and Sunday couldn't have been more different, from wet and windy to warm and sunny weather on 'Super Sunday' finally drawing shoppers out onto UK high streets, out-of-town retail parks and shopping centres.

‘While consumers have clearly been tentative about their spending over the past few months, the triple factor of the payday weekend, the late-arriving sunshine and the half-term have all helped to get things back on track.’

The footfall figures come a week after official figures showed UK retail sales rose to a 10-year high in April, up 6.9 per cent in the month compared with a year earlier.

That was the strongest annual rise since May 2004, the Office for National Statistics said.
Retail sales also jumped by 1.3 per cent between March and April beating analysts' forecasts for a 0.5 per cent rise.

Food sales during the late Easter holiday made a significant contribution to the overall figure, the ONS said.

They were 6.3 per cent higher in April against a year earlier, and 3.6 per cent up on March.
Non-food sales rose by 6.5 per cent compared with a year earlier, but were down 0.4 per cent on the month.

The annual rise in food sales was the biggest since January 2002, and were helped by a combination of better weather and sales promotions.

Increases in the price of food were limited to 0.9 per cent in April, compared with 1.8 per cent a month earlier.

Quarterly retail sales have now grown for 14 months in a row, the ONS added.

Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, called last week's retail sales figures ‘mightily impressive’, adding that they suggested strong second quarter GDP growth.

He said: ‘The fundamentals for consumers are currently improving overall, and they should continue to do so over the coming months as employment rises further and earnings growth likely trends higher than inflation, thereby lifting purchasing power.’

Source : Matt West -

27 May 2014
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