The number of shoppers out and about in March was down 7% on the same month last year.
Slightly better news in the latest data from retail footfall analyst Synovate Retail Performance is that the March traffic was marginally up on February’s – by 1.5%.
For the first quarter as a whole footfall finished 4.8% lower than quarter one 2010 – but somewhat better than the 5.6% deficit recorded for the final quarter of 2010.
“The start of 2011 has been challenging for retailers on a number of fronts,” commented Dr Tim Denison, Synovate’s director of retail intelligence. “The loss of five shoppers in every hundred is certainly one of these, and it’s hurting retailers up and down the country.”
He pointed out that last March had benefited from having Easter in it, which makes this year’s figure look particularly weak.
“Nevertheless, we can’t hide from the facts that, firstly, shoppers simply haven’t come out of their winter retrenchment yet and, secondly, that consumer confidence is continuing on a downward trajectory…UK retailing is in a state of managed nervousness.”
However, Denison added that there may be some respite over the next month or so.
“The long-awaited arrival of Easter, the royal wedding and the accompanying bank holidays will boost footfall and retail sales,” he said. “Visit London predicts that an extra 600,000 tourists will come to Britain over the wedding period alone.”