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    March footfall figures show slight rise

    (Photo by Euan Cherry/Getty Images)

    March witnessed a modest rise in retail footfall across the UK, with an increase of +1.7 per cent compared to February, shows the latest data by MRI.

    Retail parks led the charge witnessing an overall rise of +4.3 per cent month on month compared with marginal rises in high streets (+1.2 per cent ) and shopping centres (+0.2 per cent ).

    Much of the uplift was driven by activity in retail parks largely boosted by the week leading up to Easter which also coincided with payday and the start of the Easter school holidays. However, turbulent weather conditions throughout the month, alongside shifts in key holiday dates including Mothers Day and Easter led to footfall remaining steady.

    This aligns with consumer confidence remaining unchanged in March from February (according to GFK) however there was an improvement in how people feel about their personal finances over the next 12 months suggesting an element of control being regained. This also aligns with the recent news from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) which highlighted that shop price inflation eased to its lowest level since December 2021 providing good news for consumers.

    Looking ahead to April, a fresh set of rail strikes set to take place from 5th-8th April, coinciding with the Easter school holidays may dampen footfall, especially in towns and cities. However, the impact is expected to be less severe than on previous strike days due to it being bolstered by footfall on Good Friday when it rose by +12.5 per cent . Retail parks and shopping centres are likely to experience a decline in activity however much of this will be as a result of the surge in activity leading up to Good Friday in the week prior.

    This new wave of strike action will no doubt impact businesses reliant on footfall during the school holidays such as leisure and hospitality particularly in market and historic towns, as well as regional cities including London. However, there may well be optimism for coastal towns, visitor attractions, and retail destinations where families can travel by car.

    In an already challenging retail landscape, having visibility of store and portfolios performance remains crucial for businesses. Only by sourcing the right data can retailers make informed business-critical decisions, including forecasting their staffing needs, investing resources where it adds the most value, and optimising their energy and facilities management to drive efficiencies.

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