UK high street expecting more shoppers over Easter but spending will stay muted, reveals study

Last year, Easter took place a few days in advance of payday for many shoppers and the weather was largely poor

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The Independent Online

Shoppers might have tightened their purse strings in recent months, but they still seem to have a healthy appetite for hitting the high street and hunting for a bargain.

Retail footfall analyst Springboard is predicting that the Easter weekend will bring a 5.4 per cent increase to UK retail footfall and an 8.8 per cent footfall increase to UK high streets.

UK retail footfall increased by 1.2 per cent in March year-on-year, breaking a six-month decline, even though spending was hit by rising inflation and general economic uncertainty.

Diane Wehrle, a director at Springboard, said the forecast for Easter was due in part to the mild spring weather and the timing of payday for many employees.

“Last year Easter took place on 25 March, a few days in advance of payday for many shoppers,” she said. “This combined with poor weather conditions to reduce footfall across retail destinations from Easter Saturday onwards.”

Footfall dropped by 1.9 per cent overall year-on-year in 2016.

She said that mild spring weather is forecast for this Easter, and that the holiday falls mid-month, not as long after payday for many people.

“This strongly indicates that more shoppers will visit retail destinations over the weekend compared with last year,” she added.

She said that on Good Friday last year – the one day of the weekend with good weather – footfall on high streets increased by 16.4 per cent compared to Good Friday 2015.

But Ms Wehrle also noted that an increase in footfall is unlikely to translate into a spending boost this year, and that shoppers are increasingly likely to spend on food, beverages and experiences than fashion as inflation starts to bite.

The latest figures available show that consumer price inflation jumped to 2.3 per cent in February as the slump in the value of the pound since last year’s Brexit vote fed through into the cost of living.

 

The annual rate of inflation is now higher than the Bank of England’s two per cent target for the first time since November 2013.

Total average wage growth in the three months to January was 2.2 per cent, which implies that in real terms wages are now declining again, which in turn seems to be stifling shoppers’ appetite to spend.

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