Retail footfall has dipped by 0.5% in the four weeks to 24 February, declining ahead of the final week of the month when the UK was hit by freezing conditions.
The drop in footfall deepened from a 1% decrease during the same period in 2017, according to the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC)–Springboard footfall and vacancies tracker.
However, the 0.5% reduction is higher than a three-month average decline of 2% and 12-month average fall of 0.7%.
Regionally, Northern Ireland was noted as an area that saw footfall grow by 0.3%, ending eight months of consecutive decline.
Footfall in the East Midlands grew by 2.1% from a 2.2% decrease in the previous month. The East returned to growth, with numbers inching up 0.7%.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive at the BRC, said: “Footfall continued to fall year-on-year in February across most retail destinations, even before the significant impact of the snow over the last two weeks. This was mirrored in relatively flat consumer spending overall, that continues to struggle against the current retail headwinds.
“Looking ahead, there’s some hope that shopper activity will pick-up now that inflationary pressure has started to subside and wage growth is expected to move in the right direction. But this will offer only modest relief to retailers and consumers and the recent sad news announcing the closures of several well-known high street retailers should sharpen our focus to what is going on in retail in the UK at present.”
Diane Wehrle, Springboard marketing and insights director, added: “The current raft of closures amongst retailers and hospitality operators are at least in part due to overly bullish budgeting over the period from 2015, before the pre-Brexit economic jitters; but clearly exacerbated by poorer than expected Christmas trading.
“The recent snow and an early Easter will impact footfall in March, and so April’s footfall will also be affected. A true like for like trading picture will therefore only be clear at the end of the second quarter meaning retailers will have to hold their breaths to know how 2018 is shaping up.”