According to the BRC/Springboard's recent footfall monitor, retail footfall in March was 1.8% higher than a year ago, significantly up on the 2.9% fall in February and above the three-month average of 0.4%. In addition, footfall on the high street was 2.6% higher than the previous year for March, the largest rise in eleven months. Out-of-town reported the greatest rise – 3% higher than a year ago, while footfall in shopping centers was down 0.5% on the previous year.
All regions and countries with the exception West Midlands (-0.4%), South West (-0.8%), Wales (-2.7%) and Scotland (-2.1%) reported positive footfall.
Helen Dickinson, BRC director general, says: "These are strong results. They confirm what retailers have been reporting to us – that a combination of good pricing and promotions, with well-received new ranges, has driven a significant increase in shoppers on high streets and in out-of-town shopping centres.
"With the shift in Easter to April this year, it will be important to look at April's results as well to understand the full footfall picture. Retailers will be working hard to support this positive trend, and encourage people to take advantage of shopping opportunities over the Easter break."
Diane Wehrle, retail insights director at Springboard, says: "It is encouraging that following an improvement in the weather, footfall in our retail destinations returned to positive growth of 1.8%. This indicates that the improved consumer confidence, increasing house prices and lower unemployment are all starting to have a positive impact – particularly as, despite the adverse effect of the rain in February, the average of 0.4% for the first quarter this year is significantly improved on the drop in footfall of 3.2% in quarter one 2013.
"The high street has seen the most noticeable bounce back, from a 5.3% fall in February and from a 7% fall in March 2013, and the increase in the number of shoppers to out-of-town locations continues unabated for the third month in a row. It is shopping centres that continue to be challenged in terms of increasing customer numbers, and our data is delivering strong intelligence on why this is the case.
"Performance across the UK is also encouraging, with little evidence of a north-south divide. Moreover, apart from in February when footfall dropped in every part of the UK, in both January and March there have been annual increases in the majority of areas."