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Gloucestershire Business News

High Street outperforms rivals in latest visitor figures

Footfall to all types of retail destinations in the UK has enjoyed its fastest annual growth for three years, according to new figures.

Last month, there was an increase in footfall in all three retail destinations: High street, 1.7 per cent; retail parks, 1.4 per cent; shopping centres, 0.2 per cent.

However, experts say the increase in visitors has not necessarily translated into increased retail spending.

Overall footfall in March grew by 1.3 per cent on the previous year, according to the figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC), the fastest growth since March 2014 and well above the three-month average of -0.2%.

The steepest footfall decline occurred in Northern Ireland, where footfall fell by 3.7 per cent, followed by the South West, where footfall fell by 2.3 per cent.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: "Shopper visits increased to all retail destinations in March, resulting in the fastest annual growth in footfall for three years.

"This is partly owed to the exclusion of Easter Sunday from the period, which therefore benefits from an additional shopping day.

"But even looking beyond the distortion, the positive growth across most of the country is a reassuring sign for retailers.

"The high street continues to outperform shopping centres and retail parks, for the second consecutive month.

"Disappointingly though, this didn't translate into retail sales, which were down in March on the previous year."

Diane Wehrle, the marketing and insights director for retail intelligence group Springboard, which helped compile the figures, said they provided more evidence of the continuing structural shift in the use of retail destinations for leisure and hospitality trips.

"Virtually all of the increase in footfall in March was derived from the post 5pm period while footfall during the trading hours of 9am to 5pm dropped, by just 0.5 per cent in High Streets, but much more significantly, by 7.1 per cent, in shopping centres," she said.

"Indeed, the worsening of consumer confidence and inflation from last year is likely to be constraining shoppers' willingness to spend on retail goods.

"This all lends further evidence to the fact that retail is no longer the sole driver of footfall, with a strong leisure/hospitality offer being a critical element to secure retail success."

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Picture credit: pixabay

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