Experian FootFall’s Monthly Retail Index for February 2012 reveals shopper visits were 4.8% lower than February last year, which represents the largest year-on-year demise for any month since 2005.
However, compared to January 2012, footfall rose 3% on the back of half term holidays and Valentine’s Day, said researchers.
February’s weaker performance can be largely attributed to the widespread snowfall witnessed during the first week of the month and the continued cold weather in the second week, when the UK reported the coldest night of the winter and temperatures plummeted to -18˚C, said Experian.
While some high street stores were comparatively quiet, many multi-channel retailers have benefited from online purchases made by consumers who stayed home rather than brave the elements, it said.
It’s been a positive story for retail parks, as this sector reports a 1.8% increase in footfall over the same month last year, said Experian.
This is the fourth consecutive month of year-on-year growth for the Retail Park Index, which demonstrates Retail Parks’ sustained popularity with shoppers and marked resilience against poorer weather conditions.
However, Experian said there is no sign of respite for retailers who will need to continue to use every allure in persuading shoppers into stores and over to the cash desk.
Consumer confidence remains low due to increased unemployment levels, said researchers. This month, The Bank of England voted to extend its programme of quantitative easing by £50bn. Retailers will be hoping this move will not bring more strain on already cash strapped consumers by pushing up interest rates and inflation, the latter of which fell to 3.6% in January according to the Office for National Statistics.
Looking ahead to spring trading, February’s freezing weather has so far delayed consumers from purchasing spring stock, said Experian. Now milder weather is on the horizon there is hope for a fresh outlook to the season that will boost consumer interest and activity through the coming weeks.