The fragility of the British high street was laid bare last month as severe and ongoing rain led to a drop in high street footfall.
February saw a drop in footfall of 7.8 per cent as shoppers stayed away from high streets, according to the latest figures by Springboard.
However shopping centres and retail parks remained popular in part because of either their covered environment or ease of access.
Retail parks remain sheltered from the high street’s troubles as footfall declined just 1.1 per cent.
Diane Wehrle, Springboard’s marketing and insights director, said: “A disparity of 6.7 per cent between the monthly result for high streets and retail parks clearly demonstrates the exposure to extreme conditions that high streets have to contend with.”
Springboard said that the coronavirus outbreak had not had a noticeable impact on footfall last month. However, “Moving forward it is likely that shopper activity will be stemmed as consumers become more wary about interacting in public spaces.”
The embattled retail sector has had a difficult start to the year. In the last two months, 18,248 retail jobs were lost and 1,211 shops closed according to the Centre for Retail Research. Despite the ongoing high street crisis, retail premises in England will be denied a further £100m in tax reductions on 1 April, taking the total amount to over £1.2bn.
Real estate adviser, Altus Group, said that the 2017 revaluation of business rates should have been good news for ratepayers in economically disadvantaged areas who saw their property values plummet but, during the fourth and final year of the business rates cycle, the design of the system will continue to have an acute impact on properties in areas where rents significantly declined.
The net loss to the sector will be £61m with £38m granted in relief through the capping of large increases whilst £99m in tax reductions will be denied through the continual phasing in of large reductions in bills.