High street footfall has suffered its biggest decline since February 2014, according to figures from the British Retail Consortium and Springboard.
High street shopper numbers fell 4.7% during April, while overall footfall was down 2.4% on 2015’s figure. This is slightly ahead of the 2.7% decline for March 2016, compared with March 2015.
Retail park footfall rose, inching up 1.1% while shopping centre traffic fell by 0.7%.
The worst overall fall was in Scotland, at 6.2%, with Wales the lowest at 0.6%. London footfall declined by 1.5%. For the second month running, all ten UK regions experienced a decline.
Meanwhile vacancy rates in town centres hit 9.6%, up from 8.7% in January. This is the first time the vacancy rate has worsened since the beginning of 2015 but it is still in line with the average over the last 12 months.
Springboard marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle said: “April’s footfall figures certainly echo the high street decline seen over recent months, which can be attributable to the poor weather for this time of year, but with digital sales and retail parks also slowing down it signifies something more at play.
“The rise in unemployment and economic uncertainty in this pre-EU referendum period has undoubtedly adversely impacted consumer activity.”
Diane Wehrle, Springboard marketing and insights director
“The rise in unemployment and economic uncertainty in this pre-EU referendum period has undoubtedly adversely impacted consumer activity. We know that cuts in retail spending are the first line of defence against threats to household budgets when consumer confidence is knocked.
“Footfall during standard daytime trading hours – driven by retail spending – is far greater than in other parts of the day. This dropped by a greater degree than in other parts of the day, but there was no offsetting effect of uplifts during the social period of 5pm to 8pm, or during night time hours as there have been in previous months.
“This highlights the need for retail destinations to broaden their offer to embrace new and exciting retail formats that drive activity, but also to have an offer that captures the increasing consumer demand for hospitality and food and beverage.”