UK retailers catch the February chill

Kasmira Jefford
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BRITISH RETAILERS suffered a slump in footfall last month as shoppers stayed away during the coldest February in over a decade and momentum from mid-market spenders continued to lag.

The number of shoppers hitting Britain’s shops in February was down 5.7 per cent compared with the same month last year, according to research by retail analysts at Springboard.

The drop came despite a 7.1 per cent year-on-year jump during half term week, the figures showed.

In Greater London, including the capital’s central shopping sites, footfall fell 7.6 per cent year-on-year – one of the biggest declines compared with other regions in the UK.

Diane Wehrle, research director Springboard said the West End and other prime shopping areas continued to attract affluent UK and overseas shoppers.

However, footfall remains weak because “the middle market is stretched”, as ordinary shoppers continue to grapple with inflation, muted wage growth and the impact of the Eurozone crisis, she added.

The biggest shrinkage in footfall was in Scotland, down 11 per cent, which Wehrle attributed to consumers choosing to “shop local” rather than travelling into the country’s two main city centres Glasgow and Edinburgh.

On a more positive note, Springboard’s survey showed smaller towns like Rugby and Rotherham are bucking the national trend as they benefit from a “shop local” spirit.