Rain dampens sales on high street but retail parks benefit
Monday 17 February 2014
Shoppers were lured out to spend last month but the wettest January for 250 years prompted them to shun the high street in favour of out-of-town retail parks, the British Retail Consortium said today.
Footfall grew 1.6 per cent compared with a year earlier – the best performance since December 2011 – even though visits to high street stores fell 0.6 per cent, the trade body’s figures showed.
The figures contrasted with a substantial 5.7 per cent rise in visitors to retail parks, while visitors to shopping centres rose 2.4 per cent year-on-year.
January’s rainfall was the highest since recording began in 1767 – three times the average for the time of year.
Diane Wehrle, retail insights director at the retail research compiler Springboard, said: “All of the annual increase in footfall was driven by visits to shopping centres and particularly to retail parks, rather than to high streets, although this is likely to be a combination of the adverse impact of the ongoing rain on visits to external environments and the demand for furniture which drives visits to retail parks and supported January’s strong sales results.”
The figures come in the wake of the news that retail sales last month rebounded from a meagre December. The BRC announced last week that the total amount spent in stores rose 3.9 per cent in January on a like-for-like basis compared to a year earlier, after only climbing 0.4 per cent the month before.
High streets and shopping centres are both also facing the challenge of the internet. Average weekly spending online in December 2013 was £675.4m, 12 per cent higher than a year earlier and accounting for 12 per cent of overall retail spending.
The BRC’s director general, Helen Dickinson, added: “More shoppers were out and about in January. It’s good news for retailers and it helps to explain the rise in sales we reported earlier in the month, demonstrating that shoppers were enthusiastically checking out the promotions available during the sales season.”
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