The UK's high streets were hit the hardest last month, as they witnessed the largest drop in visitors numbers since March 2013, down 5.3 percent according to the latest British Retail Consortium-Springboard monthly footfall monitor.
Retail footfall dropped 2.9 percent across the whole sector, which drew a stark comparison to the 1.6 percent increase seen in January, reported the BRC. The unusual wet weather, combined with British consumers cutting back on spending after January sales were highlighted as two of the main contributors to the decline. Out of town shopping centers enjoyed a 2.3 percent increase, while shopping centers reported a 2.4 percent dip.
Diane Wehrle, retail insights director at Springboard, commented: "With a drop in footfall of 2.9 per cent, it is clear that the exceptionally rainy weather in February impacted on our retail destinations, particularly as the fall of 5.3 per cent in high streets - which are the most exposed to the elements - exceeded the 2.4 per cent fall in shopping centers that benefit from a sheltered environment."
Wales reported the worst decline in footfall, a 8.8 drop, which was followed by the South East and Northern Ireland with a 5.1 percent decline each. The West Midlands witnessed a 4.6 percent dip while Scotland saw a 4.1 percent drop. Greater London, the East Midlands and North & Yorkshire reported slight better footfall decline of 2.0 percent, 2.2 percent and 2.3 percent respectively, and remained above the footfall average decline of 2.9 percent.
Helen Dickinson, director general at the BRC added: "After the increase in UK shoppers we saw last month, we have seen a disappointing, but understandable, drop back in February. This is in-line with the low levels of growth we saw in our sales figures earlier this month."
"The high street has seen the most challenging conditions, with footfall down 5.3 per cent on last year. This underlines how important it is we keep our focus on reform of business rates to keep costs down. Reform will help high street retailers invest in their offer and attract more people out to the shops, supporting local jobs and benefiting the wider economy."