The return of the workplace commute helped to convey folks again to excessive streets and city centres final month, however shopper numbers stay stubbornly beneath pre-pandemic ranges, new figures present.
The variety of folks going to retailers was up 10.4 per cent final month, in contrast with February final yr, however is 8.8 per cent down on 2019 ranges, in line with the most recent BRC-Sensormatic IQmonitor.
The restoration was sharpest in conventional excessive streets and buying centres, up by 17.8 per cent and 11.7 per cent, respectively, and pushed by the return of commuters to workplaces.
This was balanced by a decline in the usage of out-of-town retail parks. Seen as safer alternate options to busy excessive streets in the course of the pandemic, they skilled a 3.3 per cent decline in numbers final month.
Chilly climate, the excessive price of dwelling and a looming rise in family vitality payments contributed to conserving consumers away.
Helen Dickinson, chief govt of the British Retail Consortium, mentioned: “Development in footfall slowed this month after the push of Christmas buying and January gross sales. Some individuals are making fewer visits as the price of dwelling continues to bear down forward of the April vitality value rise.” She mentioned retailers have been investing of their “retailer expertise” however shopper confidence was weak and it was “important” that the federal government didn’t burden the retail business with additional regulatory prices that hinder funding.
Richard Lim, a retail analyst, mentioned the info confirmed employees have been being “inspired to get again into the workplace at the very least two or thrice every week”.
A central London “again to the workplace” benchmark by Springboard discovered final month that footfall exercise at workplace hotspots had risen as employees returned to workplaces.
UK shopper confidence rebounded in February to its highest stage in nearly a yr, though GfK, the analysis group, mentioned it was “nonetheless severely depressed”.