Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium: “Visits to retail destinations fell by 1 per cent in February, which marks little change to what has been a familiar story over the past few years. Although, given the disappointing in-store sales so far in 2017, the decline in footfall last month is unsurprising.
“On closer inspection, there has been a steeper drop than normal in retail parks, with footfall to this shopping destination falling at the fastest rate since November 2013. In comparison, footfall on the high-street grew marginally, likely driven by its diverse offer.
“The modest relief fund for business rates announced in the Budget will hopefully go some way to helping those shops hardest hit, albeit only temporarily. It won’t however ease the burden for the majority of retailers who will continue to pay nearly a half of rental values in property tax. A business tax system that continues to curtail investment in bricks and mortar is at odds with an industry that desperately wants to invest in order to maintain local jobs and build more experience and engagement with shoppers to attract them into their stores.”
Diane Wehrle, Marketing and Insights Director, Springboard: “Footfall in February was a tale of two halves. Whilst footfall improved slightly on January with a drop of -1 per cent compared to -1.3 per cent, this should not be confused with a stabilising of consumer behaviour.
“Increasing uncertainty from an imminent triggering of Article 50 has certainly started to have an impact on purchasing behaviour, and in turn the types of destinations shoppers are visiting and what they choosing to spend their money on. High Streets are clearly benefiting as a destination of choice for dining and leisure, whilst shopping centres continue to underperform as they struggle with a weak entertainment and leisure offer alongside an increasing caution amongst consumers around retail spend. Alongside this, retail parks experienced their biggest drop in footfall (-1.6 per cent) since November 2013 as spend on furniture and household items - traditionally a key footfall driver for retail parks - weakened slightly in February. High Streets now have an opportunity to further promote their offer and pull in these visitors to shop and dine.”