Shopper numbers plummeted by 2% last month, marking the “weakest February in five years”, according to the BRC.

The rate of decline has increased significantly year on year. The latest BRC-Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor registered an overall 2% decline in the four weeks to February 23, compared with a 0.2% dip in February 2018. 

Footfall on the high street dropped by 1.9%, steeper than the 1.2% fall the previous year and marking the seventh consecutive month of decline on the high street.

Shopping centre figures fell by 3.4%, while retail park footfall dropped by 0.8%.

Weak sales growth

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “Consumers have been cautious in their spending, leading to the biggest drop in February footfall for five years.

“These figures echo the month’s poor retail sales figures, which saw weak growth, particularly in bricks-and-mortar stores. While real incomes have been rising over the last year, the uncertainty surrounding Brexit appears to be driving a needs-not-wants approach to shopping.

“Things could get a lot worse unless the government is able to avoid a calamitous no-deal Brexit. Such a scenario would likely result in higher costs, higher prices and less choice for consumers – all of which would further harm struggling retailers.

“The government must act to protect both consumers and retailers by ensuring there is no chance of a no-deal Brexit.”