Shopping centre

The number of people heading to the High Street, shopping centres or retail parks fell 1.1% in February, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

The BRC said February's footfall figures do not fully reflect the retail market at the moment.

It follows a 1.2% rise in January and falls below the three month average of -0.8%.

Retail parks continued their trend of strong growth, with footfall rising 2.5% compared with February last year. But High Streets and shopping centres saw visitor numbers drop 2.9% and 0.6%, respectively.

The BRC said that only Greater London and the South West reported rises in footfall, up 0.4% and 0.2% respectively year ago. Notable declines were seen in Northern Ireland and Scotland which fell 5.1% and 3.1% respectively.

Helen Dickinson OBE, BRC chief executive, said: “While footfall last month eased down a touch in both year-on-year and three-month totals, these relatively tepid figures do not fully reflect the changing nature of retail as an industry. Retailers are competing with each other harder than ever. The business of retailing is increasingly complex as technology continues to drive changes in the way we shop.

“Recent policy announcements, in particular the National Living Wage and the introduction of the apprenticeship levy, will increase the pace of some of these changes as well as the cumulative burden faced by retailers. We hope that the Chancellor in his forthcoming Budget will recognise both the burdens facing retailers as well as our importance to the UK’s economy and communities. The government must support retailers to allow us to continue to invest and play our part in a strong recovery.”