Highest footfall in three years egged on by Easter

Footfall in April increased by 1.6% on the same month in the previous year, the fastest growth since March 2014.

This is well above the three-month average of 0.7%, which is the first positive three-month average since May 2014, and the highest since February 2012.

The BRC-Springboard UK retail monitor shows a 2.3% high street footfall growth in April, the fastest boost since March 2014. This was ahead of the three-month average of 1.4%.

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Meanwhile, footfall to retail park destinations grew by 2.7% in April, the fastest growth since January 2016, and well ahead of the three-month average of 0.9%, while shopping centre footfall fell by 0.6% in April, a slower decline than the three-month average of -0.9%.

“As Easter fell in April this year, as opposed to March last year, footfall was boosted by +1.6 per cent,” says Springboard marketing and insights director, Diane Wehrle. “This rise was fuelled by the weakened pound, which drove an increase in overseas tourists – demonstrated by the +2.7 per cent uplift in footfall in London’s West End in April – and in Easter staycations amongst domestic visitors.”

Easter staycations increased by 5.1% in coastal towns and 7.9% in historic towns. The underlying structural shift towards leisure-focussed trips meant that whilst high street footfall rose by 1.9% during retail trading hours, trips to high streets after 5pm increased by more than 3%.

“The vacancy rate also improved very slightly in April to 9.3% from 9.4% in January, but this disguises increases in vacancies in all areas apart from in London, the East and the North & Yorkshire,” adds Wehrle. “The vacancy rate is perhaps a portent of things to come; inflationary pressures are likely to increase, which could suppress customer behaviour and therefore occupier demand, notwithstanding the emergence of new occupiers who initially tend to focus on London.”

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