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Beast from the East contributes to significant drop in shopper footfall in March

PUBLISHED: 08:38 16 April 2018 | UPDATED: 09:30 16 April 2018

March's bad weather affected footfall on high streets around the UK. 
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

March's bad weather affected footfall on high streets around the UK. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

Shopper footfall saw its steepest decline in more than seven years in March, according to new figures.

The decline of 6% over the five weeks to March 31 compares to an average drop of 1.4% over the past year.

The BRC-Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor showed growth fell in all shopping destinations, with the high street suffering a decline of 8.6%, shopping centres down 4.8% and retail parks down 1.8%.

The greatest overall drops in footfall were seen in London, the South East and the East Midlands.

MORE: Special report – Call to support the high street as store openings fall

British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson said that while the prolonged wintry weather in March had an impact, there was a longer term trend of reduced footfall, highlighting shoppers’ increased choice of “how, where and when they shop”.

“The retail environment is changing and retailers are investing in innovation and technology adaptations in response to this,” she said.

“Policy-makers must also play their part with a vision for a modern business taxation system which reflects this new environment.”

Diane Wehrle, Springboard marketing and insights director, said: “The severe weather put paid to any glimmer of hope for an uplift in shopper activity in March. Hitting the week following the pay day weekend was the worst timing possible as it meant that shoppers who had available budget deferred trips.”

Ms Wehrle said the annual decline was “undoubtedly a function of low consumer confidence arising from ongoing economic constraints attached to current price inflation and concern for the future”.

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