UK retail footfall in March was 2.7% down on a year ago, according to newly-released figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard.
High street footfall dropped 3.9% last month and shopping centre footfall fell 3.75%, while footfall in retail park locations rose1.6%.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “The near 4% decline in footfall on our high streets and shopping centres is partially caused by the distortion of the timing of Easter.
“It is, however, also a continuation of a longer term trend caused by ongoing structural change within the retail industry. Customers don’t differentiate between buying online, on a mobile device or in-store, and often combine two or more different channels when they shop.
“Therefore, as well as their significant investment in digital, retailers know they also need to continually improve their physical stores to ensure an ever changing and more exciting shopping experience.”
Springboard marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle added: “An early Easter is always a challenge for retail destinations, as the bank holiday traditionally kick-starts demand for Spring fashion and household purchasing.
“Adverse weather when new season stock comes in significantly impacts shopping trips. With a drop in footfall of 2.7%, this is exactly what occurred this March. High streets and shopping centres were affected the most, and even the longstanding uplift in footfall on retail parks was dampened.
“The widespread coverage across the UK of Storm Katie, and overall a cold March, meant footfall dropped in all regions and nations.
“On the plus side, Springboard’s data reveals footfall was more resilient this March than in March 2013, when Easter also fell early and footfall dropped by 5.2% – again, due to severe weather conditions but also not helped by greater economic fragility.”