Shoppers Return To The High Street In February

UK Shoppers Consumer trends

Consumers returned to the high street in February to find a wider variety of retailers’ new collections and to take advantage of the last of the winter promotions published by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) today.

Last month, overall retail footfall went up by 0.8% year-on-year after seeing a 4.6% drop in February, the BRC/Springboard Footfall Monitor showed. The increase in high street visitor numbers is in line with the rise in retail sales recorded in the second month of the year, when they were up 4.4% on a total basis and 2.7% on a like-for-like basis. Compared with February 2012, the high street footfall saw its strongest growth since December 2011, at 2.7%.

Meanwhile, both shopping centres and out-of-town locations witnessed a decline in footfall, of 1.6% and 1.5%, respectively.

Despite the slight improvement in February footfall, there are signs that conversion rates are on the rise, BRC’s director general Helen Dickinson said. The milder weather in February 2013, in comparison to February 2012 – which saw heavy snow loads – proved a “sure-fire factor” behind the high street’s best result for the last 15 months, she said. This was, however, only the third time in the last 12 months in which footfall rates have edged over zero, Dickinson noted.

Despite the improvement, high street retailers cannot be certain that the industry is set to see significant growth in the future, but it at least shows some kind of recovery and a sign of stabilisation in the current environment, Diane Wehrle, Research Director at Springboard, commented.