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    Half-term break boosts footfall

    (Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)

    February was saved by the school half-term holiday, which contributed to an overall rise in footfall of 8.3 per cent from the month before across all UK retail destinations.

    According to the data from MRI Software, high streets witnessed a rise of 11.4 per cent, followed by shopping centres (+6.9 per cent) and retail parks (+3.3 per cent). Much of the activity was driven by the third week of the month, which is when half term fell across many regions, delivering a rise in activity of 15.3 per cent in all retail destinations from the week before.

    However, despite the half-term boost, footfall was down 2.2 per cent year-on-year as store closures, rail strikes, and storms took their toll on retailers.

    This figure was driven by high street activity falling by 3.5 per cent, followed by shopping centres (-2.3 per cent). MRI Software noted that this may well be an indicator of the significant number of retailers, such as John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, and Boots, that have streamlined physical store operations over the last 12 months through closures. For some locations, these had acted as anchor stores serving a vital role in driving footfall in that location.

    However, retail parks remained resilient with a modest rise of 0.9 per cent, which could highlight how these sites have pivoted their strategies and optimised that tenant mix to cater for the changing needs and wants of consumers.

    Jenni Matthews, marketing and insights director at MRI Software, said, “As we head into March, retail destinations should approach this with optimism as the second largest trading period falls towards the end of the month- Easter. Falling a week earlier than last year, this shift allows retail destinations to benefit from the holiday build-up starting around the third week of the month.

    “Despite consumer confidence falling by two points in February, the outlook for the next 12 months remains strong as consumers continue to spend despite the cost-of-living crisis.

    “The metric which measures people’s personal finance situation for the next 12 months highlighted stability as this had not slipped back and was actually 18 points higher than last February.

    “This suggests that consumers are maintaining control over their finances and budgeting accordingly for the year ahead with relief coming in the form of reduced energy bills and optimism that inflation and interest rates may also be set to fall.”

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