According to BRC-Sensormatic IQ data:

  • Total UK footfall increased by 6.8% in March (YoY), 3.6 percentage points worse than February and worse than the 3-month average increase of 9.5%.
  • High Street footfall increased by 8.6% in March (YoY), 9.2 percentage points weaker than last month's rate and worse than the 3-month average rise of 14.5%.
  • Retail Parks saw footfall decrease by 5.9% in March (YoY), 2.6 percentage points weaker than last month's rate and worse than the 3-month average decline of 5.2%.
  • Shopping Centre footfall increased by 8.2% in March (YoY), 3.5 percentage points weaker than last month's rate and worse than but the 3-month average rise of 11.6%.
  • Scotland saw the highest increase in footfall of all nations at 12%, followed by Wales at 9.1% and Northern Ireland at 7%. England saw the lowest increase at 6.5%.
  • Weekends saw a 9.7% rise in footfall growth in March (YoY), faster than the 5.4% rise (YoY) for weekdays. Sunday was the most improved day with 10.6%, followed by Saturday at 9.2%, while Fridays saw the least improvement at 4.2%.
  • Compared to pre-pandemic levels (Yo4Y), Total UK Footfall decreased by 10.2%; High Streets by 11.5%, Retail Parks lower by 5.3%, and Shopping Centres by 20.3%.

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said:

Footfall remains below pre-pandemic levels, and the rate of strong recovery slowed in March. Households avoided big ticket purchases, resulting in lower footfall at Retail Parks, meanwhile High Streets and Shopping Centres saw strong footfall growth as these locations continued to make up ground lost during the pandemic. Another sign of the return to pre-pandemic footfall patterns is the return of weekend shopping, as the ongoing return to the office caused many to refocus their shopping trips back to the weekend.
In this challenging economic environment, retailers remain committed to keeping costs low for consumers, including expanding value ranges and offering discounts to vulnerable groups. However, Government should ease the regulatory burdens that hinder industry investment into lower prices.

Andy Sumpter, Retail Consultant EMEA for Sensormatic Solutions, commented:

Shopper traffic counts in March saw an improvement on last year, which is no small feat given the backdrop of ongoing cost-of-living pressures, stubbornly high inflation and strike disruptions continuing to simmer away. Retail parks remained the outlier, with a slightly more suppressed recovery due to their tenant mix of predominantly furniture, kitchen and bed retail outlets, as shoppers expressed spending caution and held off purchasing big ticket items.
While the retail footfall recovery slowed marginally last month compared to pre-pandemic levels, we continue to see shopper numbers continue to normalise and the ebbs and flows in performance are becoming less pronounced. We also see, perhaps as a consequence of hybrid working becoming the norm, the significance of the weekend rising, leaving Friday and Monday trailing behind.