Footfall fell by 1.7% in March according to Experian.
Experian said that the figures were skewed because Easter fell in March last year, but falls in April this year. However it said that Mother’s Day saw 1.7% fewer shoppers, which it said indicated shoppers continued to be under financial pressure.
Wales and the South West, were hardest hit, with footfall falling 7.13%. Scotland saw footfall fall 6.71% and Yorkshire and Humberside fell 6.02%. The North East, South East and East Midlands all recorded an uplift in footfall (see table below).
Experian said that retail parks had performed better than high street, recording an increase in shopper visitors of 0.5%, because milder weather drove shoppers to visit DIY and garden suppliers more frequently.
Experian also said that some towns were reporting up to 39% vacancy rates of total floorspace and that overall vacancy rates were around 15%.
Jonathan de Mello, director of retail consultancy, Experian, explained: “In terms of the landlord/tenant relationship it is clearly a retailer’s market at present, as more and more stores become vacant due to retailer administration or store network rationalisation. Landlords with new shopping centre schemes are having to offer major concessions to retailers to get these schemes let, and capital contributions, rent free periods and turnover-based rental deals are all becoming commonplace.
“Retailers trading in existing shopping centres or high streets are also looking for better and more flexible deals, and the majority of the larger landlords have been willing to help, as the opportunity cost of not doing so could be an empty store yielding no rental income and subject to an ‘empty rates tax.’”