Retail footfall in April saw a monthly rise of 1.2% across all destinations as shoppers made their way to high streets, battling bad weather conditions and rail strike disruptions.

Oxford Circus 2023

Central London saw a 9.6% increase in retail footfall on the day of the London Marathon

UK high streets saw the largest monthly increase in footfall at 3.2% in April, while retail parks recorded a 0.7% decline and shopping centre footfall dropped 0.9%. 

Footfall declined 3% year on year across all destinations compared with April 2023, according to the latest MRI Software data. 

MRI said this could be due to the fact that Easter weekend fell in March this year, as well as “inclement weather conditions” and the “disruption caused by rail strikes”.

Shopping centre footfall fell 4.7% year on year, while both retail parks and high streets saw a year-on-year decline of 2.4% each. 

The London Marathon highlighted the influence sporting events can have on UK retail, especially in central London which saw week-on-week footfall grow 5% on Saturday, April 20 and rise 9.6% on Sunday, April 21 – the day of the marathon.

MRI Software marketing and insights director Jenni Matthews said: “As we approach May, retailers will face another wave of rail strike action coinciding with the early May bank holiday, which could impact footfall in UK retail destinations. 

“This could be particularly felt in towns and cities where people have already planned long weekend getaways. However, milder weather on the horizon could minimise the impact on destinations which are easily accessible by car.

“In spite of these challenges, there is optimism for the sector which is supported by an improvement in consumer confidence GFK by two points in April to -19. 

“This was driven by improvements in all areas, including the measure for the general economic situation and how people view their personal financial situations over the last 12 months, as well as expectations for both of these indicators over the next 12 months.”