Retail footfall decreased in March as shoppers began to limit their spending on leisure-based trips as the cost-of-living crisis deepens.

Footfall declined by 2.8% compared to February, when shoppers made the most of the school half-term. 

A 1.4% annual decline in weekend footfall across high streets was recorded, making March the first month ever this has happened. This was likely caused by a reduction in non-essential shopping.

March’s overall footfall edged up 0.7% compared to the same period last year, the smallest year-on-year uplift since the pandemic. February saw a year-on-year rise of 11% and January a 10.7% increase.

Footfall in high streets was 0.6% lower than in March 2022, 3.4% higher in shopping centres and 0.7% higher in retail parks.

Springboard’s data also revealed that footfall on UK high streets widened to -18.7% compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

Springboard forecast that Easter weekend footfall will show a 5.1% jump compared to the week before but this is expected to only be 5.4% higher than Easter 2022.

Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle said: “These results demonstrate that consumers are clearly starting to feel the impact of the cost-of-living crisis. Higher inflation and interest rates and the end of the monthly energy bill rebate, all coincide with the need for consumers to plan for Easter and the summer in the face of a dwindling savings pot amassed by many during the pandemic.

“This inevitably means that a far greater degree of cautiousness is being exhibited. For many consumers, a period of austerity has started, with the driver of trips now being essential spending rather than experience as many consumers rein in leisure-based trips to destinations to reduce their spending”

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