UK footfall declined in February, with a “steeper drop than normal” at retail parks, according to new figures.
Total shopper numbers declined 1% year-on-year, the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard footfall monitor showed.
This is lower than the three-month average of 0.8%, but slightly above the twelve-month average of -1.1%.
High Street footfall rose 0.1% in February on the previous year’s rate of -2.9%.
During the same period, footfall in retail park locations fell 1.6%, compared to a 2.5% increase in February 2016. This is an acceleration on January’s fall of 0.4% and below the three-month average of -0.9%.
BRC CEO Helen Dickinson said the overall decline in footfall last month is “unsurprising”, given the “disappointing” in-store sales seen so far in 2017.
But she added that on closer inspection, there has been a steeper drop in footfall than normal in retail parks, with footfall to this shopping destination falling at the fastest rate since November 2013.
In comparison, high street footfall rose 0.1% in February on the previous year’s rate of -2.9%.
This was likely driven by the high street’s “diverse offer”, Dickinson said.
“The modest relief fund for business rates announced in the Budget will hopefully go some way to helping those shops hardest hit, albeit only temporarily. It won’t however ease the burden for the majority of retailers who will continue to pay nearly a half of rental values in property tax,” she continued.
“A business tax system that continues to curtail investment in bricks and mortar is at odds with an industry that desperately wants to invest in order to maintain local jobs and build more experience and engagement with shoppers to attract them into their stores.”