Footfall jumped 0.8% in February year on year and was up from a 4.6% decline in January, as high streets delivered their best performance since December 2011.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC)/Springboard Footfall monitor showed footfall on high streets rose 2.7% from last year, when snow impacted footfall on the high street.
Although the number of shoppers in shopping centres and out-of-town locations fell 1.6% and 1.5% respectively, this is a “significant” improvement on January’s figures, according to the monitor.
BRC director-general Helen Dickinson said the performance on the high street was the “standout story” for February. “But it’s only the third time in 12 months that high street footfall rates have edged over zero,” she added. “Retailers will be hoping that Wednesday’s Budget delivers concrete measures to build on this boost and put more money in people’s pockets.
“Compared against the widespread regional variations seen in January, it’s really encouraging to see improvements in footfall across the board. However, the link between the number of shops and shoppers is plain to see: the lowest footfall was in the North and Yorkshire, which has England’s highest vacancy rate.”
The improvement in footfall supports the improvement in retail sales after the BRC recorded a 2.7% increase in retail like-for-like sales in February.
Springboard research director Diane Wehrle said: “For the high street, one swallow does not make a summer, but these results might hint at the green shoots of recovery, or at least some stabilisation in the current environment.”
Six out of seven regions in England reported a rise in footfall. The strongest growth came from Greater London, which increased 5.8% and the West Midlands, which was up 2.6%.
The only region to report a decline in footfall was the North & Yorkshire, down 2.7% after reporting one of the highest vacancy rates in January at 13.6%.