Independent retailers across the UK failed to reap the benefits of the expected bumper Easter trading, as good weather tempted shoppers away from the high street.
Despite retailers hoping for a sales boost over the bank holiday weekend, high streets reported a drop in shopper numbers of 8.2% over the three trading days, according to retail data company Springboard. Footfall overall declined 6.4% over the weekend. Springboard had previously forecast rises of 8%, 6% and 9% on the high street for the three days.
Oliver Tookman, owner of Robert Goddard, which has three shops in Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire, said trade had been disappointing:
“Everyone was expecting a massive bumper weekend and that didn’t happen. I think there was an underestimation of how many people went away; Easter fell late, the weather was better than expected – there were lots of reasons.”
Footfall was similarly light in Crouch End, north London, with Susana Coop, owner of womenswear
store Scarecrow Boutique, describing it as a “ghost town”. She added: “We rely on local people shopping and I think a lot of people went away for the weekend. Trade was OK but there just weren’t many customers. The high street was very quiet”.
Some retailers said good weather had affected trade. Ann Jordon, owner of premium womenswear store Please Don’t Tell in Belfast, said: “Wednesday and Thursday were mental, but Saturday wasn’t as good. The weather was really nice and a lot of people went to the coast, so that affected business.”
David Weeks, buying director of Scottish mini-chain Xile, added: “The weather was so nice on Friday and Saturday – people were hitting the beer gardens, not the shops. It was the first decent weather we’ve seen in Scotland this year.”
Shopping centres also underperformed, with footfall dropping by 11.3%, 10.4% and 2.3% on Friday, Saturday and Monday respectively.
Nick Benn, owner of menswear and womenswear store N:Ridge in Crystal Peaks shopping centre in Sheffi eld, said trade over the weekend was “absolutely shocking”.
He added: “There was no improvement and no increase. I don’t think Easter is a big enough thing anymore to get people out shopping. Footfall was down in the whole centre. This growth everybody’s talking about, we’re not seeing it at all”.
However, Myf Ryan, marketing director at Westfield, said its London shopping centres bucked the trend with a 14% footfall increase on Easter week last year.