A long term trend for shoppers abandoning the high street continued in March 2016, with an earlier Easter and a colder spring accelerating the decline.
Figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and the Springboard Footfall Vacancies Monitor show that footfall on the high street and in shopping centres fell by 2.7%. What’s more, in the five weeks leading up to 2 April 2016, the decline was measured at 3.9%.
The chief reasons for the accelerated decline are the fewer trading days in March this year due to the Easter bank holidays and the colder than usual weather in the same month.
Helen Dickinson, the BRC’s chief executive, said of the figures:
The near 4% decline in footfall on our high streets and shopping centres is partially caused by the distortion of the timing of Easter. It is, however, also a continuation of a longer-term trend caused by ongoing structural change within the retail industry.
The BRC has called on the government to help struggling businesses in the retail sector by pressing on with recent Budget announcements such as the reduction of business rates for around 250,000 medium businesses and the removal of 600,000 small companies from paying the rates at all. However, many retailers have complained that the introduction of the National Living Wage, which raises the hourly rate of workers aged 25 and over to £7.20, will hit their bottom lines.
Security may be required. Product fees may apply.