Footfall growth accelerates at fastest rate for five years, says BRC

Footfall to retail stores in Q1 showed the fastest rate of growth in five years, the British Retail Consortium has said.

High Street footfall achieved a 2.3% growth in April alone, the fastest growth since March of 2014 and ahead of the three-month average of 1.4%.

In a recent survey of bike retailers by CyclingIndustry.News slumps in footfall ranked as the fourth greatest concern to business with 46% worried by lack of customers.

Green shoots do seem to be emerging, according to the BRC. Overall footfall in April grew by 1.6% like-for-like, also the fastest growth since March 2014.

The national town centre vacancy rate was 9.3 per cent in April 2017, down from 9.4 per cent in January 2017. This is largely due to sharp declines in Greater London and the East, the high street vacancy rates in all other nations/regions having risen in April.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief-Executive offered:The Easter holidays boosted family visits to shopping destinations in April, resulting in the fastest annual growth of footfall since March 2014. The inclusion of the holidays in this period will have distorted this figure but even looking beyond this, the picture over the last quarter has been largely positive.

“As has been the trend for some months now, high streets across most of the UK attracted the largest increase in visitors out of all shopping destinations. This translated into good news for stores too, which saw their fastest annual sales growth since January last year.

“At first glance the vacancy rate also looks positive for the month, with a modest decline. However, this average figure belies the increase that occurred in all areas of the UK except London, the East and the North & Yorkshire. We will have to wait for the impact of April’s business rates revaluations to materialise, but the challenges businesses face as the UK negotiates its future relationship with Europe has made reducing the burden and fundamentally reforming the business tax system even more critical.”