Shoppers returned to the high street in droves last month, with footfall up 1.8% on March 2013, reversing the decline seen in February, according to Springboard/BRC data.
High streets saw the largest rise in 11 months, up 2.6% year-on-year, as improved weather tied in with new product launches. Out-of-town locations grew the most, up 3%, with shopping centres down 0.5% on the previous year.
All regions were up apart from the West Midlands, which was down 0.4%, and the South West, which was down 0.8%. Scotland and Wales also reported declines, down 2.1% and 2.7% respectively.
British Retail Consortium director general Helen Dickinson said they were “strong results”.
She added: “As we saw in the sales figures earlier in the week, fashion and footwear have performed particularly strongly. Retailers have pitched their new collections well, encouraging people to visit shops and update their wardrobes.
“With the shift in Easter to April this year, it will be important to look at April’s results as well to understand the full footfall picture. Retailers will be working hard to support this positive trend, and encourage people to take advantage of shopping opportunities over the Easter break.”
Springboard retail insights director Diane Wehrle said: “It is encouraging that following an improvement in the weather, footfall in our retail destinations returned to positive growth. This indicates that the improved consumer confidence, increasing house prices and lower unemployment are all starting to have a positive impact, particularly as despite the adverse effect of the rain in February, the average of 0.4% for the first quarter this year is significantly improved on the drop in footfall of 3.2% in quarter one 2013.”
“It is shopping centres that continue to be challenged in terms of increasing customer numbers, and our data is delivering strong intelligence on why this is the case.”