Retailers were dealt a major blow this weekend as the Easter Bank Holiday wash-out caused a slump in visits to the high street, according to figures released yesterday.
Data company Springboard said that footfall across high streets, shopping centres and retail parks fell by two per cent between Good Friday and yesterday at midday compared with Easter last year.
High streets saw the biggest decline in shopper numbers, down 4.7 per cent over the holiday weekend after a 10 per cent fall on Good Friday, when it rained across the UK.
But while town centres suffered, retail parks benefitted from the rain with footfall up 2.7 per cent over the three days. Meanwhile, shopping centres were down 0.3 per cent.
The slump comes as a blow to the retail sector, which had been expecting consumers to splash out thanks to Easter falling closer to the March payday and improving economic conditions.
Springboard’s Diane Wehrle said online shopping may have also played a greater role this Easter, with figures from data firm Postcode Anywhere showing an 11 per cent rise in transactions on Good Friday.
However, industry experts said the figures may be masking more positive sales volumes, depending on how much people spent overall.
“Retail sales have been pretty healthy for an extended period,” Howard Archer, chief UK economist at IHS Global Insight, said.
“It could well be that as uncertainty over the General Election comes ever more to the forefront that some people are more cautious in their spending, but the fundamentals still look pretty bright for the consumer over the coming months with improving purchasing power and rising employment,” he told City A.M.