March footfall boost likely to be followed by weaker April and beyond - Springboard
Retailers beware. A strong uplift in UK footfall in March was only likely to be the calm before the storm, warned Springboard on Thursday. “Expect this to be short-term goods news for retailers”, its latest report noted.
Diane Wehrle, Marketing & Insights Director of Springboard, warned: “With the substantial increase in energy and fuel prices, consumers are aware that increased costs are on the horizon but have not fully hit.
“Inevitably this will mean less disposable income and so some retail spending will be curtailed, particularly as we enter the summer period when many consumers will be looking to reserve budget to spend on much longed for summer holidays.”
So what actually happened last month? Footfall strengthened noticeably, to -15.3% below 2019 from -20.7% in February. Martha’s figures nearly reached the level achieved in November of -14.5%, prior to the increase in Covid infections due to the Omicron variant.
Footfall declined from 2019 by -17.4% in high streets, -21.3% in shopping centres and -4.2% in retail parks. High streets particularly benefited with an improvement from -26.2% in February.
Springboard also noted that alongside price inflation, the longer-term challenge for physical retail destinations is hybrid home/office working that now appears to have become widely adopted.
“With many employees opting to work at home for at least part of the week, the recovery in footfall – particularly in large city centres – has been constrained and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future”, it said.
“At the same time, however, it should be recognised that not all of the drop in footfall is due to Covid; even prior to the pandemic Springboard’s data had shown an average drop in footfall of around -1.5% per annum for the past decade as consumers migrated some of their spending online. The net Covid impact on footfall to date, is therefore circa -12%”.
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