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Retail footfall takes a tumble in April

Retail footfall plummeted in April as retailers battled wet weather and challenging trading conditions.

Footfall for March and April declined at the fasted rate since the depths of the recession in 2009, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor.

Year on year, footfall in April decreased by 3.3%, compared to 1.6% growth in April 2017. It dropped by 9% over the first half of the month, recovering to 1.5% growth in the second half. There was no growth in footfall for any region of the UK, although Wales and greater London saw a slower rate of decline.

High street footfall fell by 4%, shopping centres by 3.5% and retail parks by 1.8%.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said: “A wet start to April had a dampening effect on visits across the UK’s shopping locations adding to the long-term downward trend in footfall resulting from changing consumer behaviour. That shift in the way we shop, coupled with a highly challenging business environment, is having a significant impact on the nation’s high streets: in April nearly 1 in 10 shops in town centres was vacant.

“While these figures highlight the difficulties faced by retailers, they also point to the evolution of the industry. Retailers are embracing changing customer behaviour and adapting to a challenging environment by rebalancing investment in physical and digital infrastructure. Policy-makers can help support our industry and the re-making of our high streets by creating a progressive policy environment that allows retailers to adapt successfully.”

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