Retail footfall drops 12.6 per cent as storms batter high street

 

The wettest April on record "battered" retailers and drove the sharpest drop in footfall since the end of 2009.

The number of shoppers on the high street plummeted by 12.6 per cent last month, although the almost incessant rain benefited shopping centres, which saw footfall rise by 0.4 per cent in April.

The economic downturn and bad weather contributed to an overall 2 per cent fall in footfall over the three months to 30 April, according to the survey from the British Retail Consortium, Springboard and the Association of Town Centre Management.

Diane Wehrle, the research director at Springboard, said: "There's no denying that this has been a tough few months, but retailers had braced themselves for the blow in light of the weather forecast. Proof that rain was a leading factor can be seen from the fact that enclosed shopping centres were the only environment that saw positive footfall figures during April's downpours."

Compounding the problems faced by high streets, vacancy rates for UK town centres remained uncomfortably high at 11.1 per cent in April.

The rain has hit fashion retailers selling summer clothes particularly hard, and French Connection warned on profits for the third time in seven months last week. Marks & Spencer is expected to provide further insight into how the April deluge has affected its recent trading tomorrow, when it posts its results for the year to 31 March.

While Wales actually delivered a rise of 0.6 per cent in footfall over the last quarter, every other region of the UK was in negative territory, with Scotland down 12.6 per cent and Greater London lower by 8.2 per cent, among the worst performers.

Stephen Robertson, the BRC's director general, said: "While March was a better month, with the sun bringing some spring spending forward, cold, wet weather combined with a widespread lack of spare cash kept them at home in April."

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