A cold March led into a wet April compounding High Street woes, says new report

Think bike retail is suffering unduly? It's not alone. Across all sectors, the UK retail industry suffered from a significant drop in footfall in April which followed a dire March. According to new figures from the British Retail Consortium, this is the worst two-month average since 2009 recessions at the height of the financial crisis.

According to the latest Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor from the British Retail Consortium, footfall in April decreased by 3.3 per cent year-on-year which followed on from the six per cent plunge recorded in March.

Most regions saw a slower rate of decline, most notable being Wales, 1.5 percent, and Greater London, 2.4 per cent. However, footfall in Northern Ireland fell sharply by 7.3 per cent from -1.8 per cent the previous month, the three-month average is now -2.9 per cent, reports the BRC.

Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle said: “Much could be made of the adverse impact on April’s footfall of Easter shifting to March, but even looking at March and April together – so smoothing this out – still demonstrates that footfall has plummeted."

“A wet start to April had a dampening effect on visits across the UK’s shopping locations adding to the long-term downward in footfall resulting from changing consumer behaviour,” British Retail Consortium's chief executive Helen Dickinson said.

“That shift in the way we shop, coupled with a highly challenging business environment, is having a significant impact on the nation’s high streets – in April nearly one in ten shops in town centres was vacant.

“While these figures highlight the difficulties faced by retailers, they also point to the evolution of the industry. Retailers are embracing changing customer behaviour and adapting to a challenging environment by rebalancing investment in physical and digital infrastructure."

Separate figures from Visa show overall consumer spending down two per cent in April.

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