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March shoppers give high streets the cold shoulder

Published: 15 April 2013
The bitterly cold weather kept shoppers indoors in March and slashed 5.2% off the year-on-year footfall figures
March shoppers give high streets the cold shoulder
The British Retail Consortium said it was the weakest performance since April last year, when footfall declined 6.9%. In February this year the figure nudged up 0.8%.

Shopper numbers weakened in all locations in March when compared with a year earlier. High streets reported the greatest fall, losing 7% of their shoppers and recording the weakest performance since July 2012. They were followed by out-of-town destinations, down 4.2%, and shopping centres, down 2.4%.

BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: "The prolonged cold was the main culprit for deterring shoppers, especially compared against the far milder March of 2012. Although footfall did pick up around the Easter weekend, it couldn't fully compensate for a weak showing across the month as a whole.

"High streets were hit the hardest by the cold snap, as many of us favoured shopping under shelter rather than braving the elements. In February, high streets had been the standout performer, but March saw footfall growth slumping back to sub-zero territory."

However, she added that it was not all bad news. "Our March sales figures were fairly strong, even if you strip out the data for the Easter weekend which fell earlier this year than in 2012. This suggests that, when people did venture out, they bought things, although the weather brought mixed fortunes for different categories."

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