Consumers flocked to retail parks in February but shunned high streets and shopping centres, according to data out today.
Visitors to UK shops dropped by 1.1 per cent in February – an abrupt reversal of the 1.2 per cent rise seen in January, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard said.
High streets and shopping centres both suffered a decline in footfall – down 2.9 per cent and 0.6 per cent year-on-year respectively.
That compares with a 0.2 per cent rise and footfall that was broadly flat for each respectively in January.
Retail parks fared better, enjoying a 2.5 per cent jump in visitors through their doors compared with the same time last year.
However, even this represented a sharp slowdown on the 5.2 per cent rise recorded January, which was its best performance in two years.
The trend echoes the slowdown in retail sales growth to 0.1 per cent last month following a 2.6 per cent jump in January, according to the BRC.
The south west and London were the only regions to report a rise in footfall, up 0.4 per cent and 0.2 per cent respectively on a year ago. Northern Ireland and Scotland were the biggest fallers, down 5.1 per cent and 3.1 per cent.
Springboard’s marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle said the data also showed consumers are increasingly moving towards shopping in the evening as a result of retail parks and shopping centres becoming more leisure-focused in bid to drive footfall.
“A closer look at high street footfall in February reveals a 0.2 per cent uplift during the early evening period, whilst footfall during daytime hours dropped by 3.9 per cent, a strong indicator that visits to retail destinations are becoming about more than just retail,” she added.