UK footfall drops again in April – leading to biggest two-month fall since financial crisis

PUBLISHED: 09:21 14 May 2018 | UPDATED: 08:25 15 May 2018

Bad weather and an early Easter helped the decline in footfall in April, the BRC and Springboard monitor said.
 Picture: Nick Butcher

Bad weather and an early Easter helped the decline in footfall in April, the BRC and Springboard monitor said. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2018

Continued bad weather has seen the UK high street hit by the biggest two-month drop in footfall since the recession.

But the region’s businesses are hopeful a sunny start to the summer calendar could kickstart the year.

The BRC/Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor showed a 3.3% drop in footfall in April, which was blamed on poor weather and the timing of Easter.

Following a 6% fall in March, footfall has seen a drop of 4.8% over the two months. It is the most severe drop since the same period in 2009, during the depths of the financial crisis – but even then the decrease was lower at 3.8%.

Norwich Business Improvement District executive director Stefan Gurney said the beginning of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival would help boost footfall and retailers needed to make sure they were turning visitors into customers through experiences.

He said: “Our footfall has been down as everywhere has been across the country but I think we have been a bit better off here in Norwich. With the festival launching we hope we will have a better month in May.”

Mark Cordell, chief executive of Our Bury St Edmunds Business Improvement District, said while April footfall was not as good as last year it had improved on March 2018 and April 2016. He said: “The snow and rain in March had a detrimental impact upon footfall levels in March but things were slightly better in April and the two weeks of lovely weather showed increases of more than 20% compared with the week where the weather was poor.

“Weather has a huge impact upon visitor numbers to the 
town and that was illustrated again with the wonderful Bank holiday weekend weather last week.”

While the bad weather has taken its toll there has also been the changing habits of shoppers, with online competition continuing to pressurise the high street.

Abbie Panks, Vancouver Quarter centre manager in King’s Lynn, said: “While we know that changes in dates for Easter, poor weather and in the case of King’s Lynn continued road works on thoroughfares have all compounded the drop in footfall this has not happened overnight. There has been a continued 
shift in shopping habits, certainly over the past six months at least, and from our perspective it is how we analyse this to create more ways to drive people into our 
town centre which is important.”

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