March delivered a sharp shock to UK retail destinations with a decline in footfall of -2.8 percent, according to data from Springboard.
Where February saw an increase that bettered the same month in other years post pandemic, what came to pass was the first month on month decline in footfall in March since MRI Springboard started publishing its data in January 2009, except for March in 2018 when the Beast from the East hit the UK and March 2020 when the UK went into Lockdown.
Springboard said the results demonstrate that consumers are clearly starting to feel the impact of the cost-of-living crisis. Higher inflation and interest rates and the end of the monthly energy bill rebate, all coincide with the need for consumers to plan for Easter and the summer in the face of a dwindling savings pot amassed by many during the pandemic.
This inevitably means that a far greater degree of cautiousness is being exhibited. For many consumers a period of austerity has started, with the driver of trips now being essential spending rather than experience as many consumers rein in leisure-based trips to destinations to reduce their spending.
In terms of numbers, footfall fell -1.4 percent across UK high streets at the weekend – the first month ever this has occurred – versus rises of 19.8 percent in February and 9.5 percent in January.
At least some of the reduction of footfall in March is likely to have been a consequence of consumers deferring trips to the Easter weekend, during which MRI Springboard has forecast that footfall will be 5.1 percent higher than the same three trading days in the week before.