Early Easter, rail strikes and poor weather 'dampen footfall' in April

UK retail footfall declined by three per cent in April compared to the same four-week period of 2023, according to new figures from MRI Software (formerly Springboard.)

However, the number of consumers shopping across the UK's retail destinations increased by 1.2 per cent in comparison to March.

The research suggests that a shift in the dates on which Easter fell this year, along with rail strikes, and poor weather conditions impacted footfall during the month.

This year Easter Sunday fell on 31 March compared to 9 April in 2023 and 17 April the year before that.

The annual drop in footfall aligns with figures from 2018 when Easter also fell in the final week of March, when levels dropped by 3.3 per cent.

But events including the London Marathon provided a welcome boost to leisure and hospitality businesses in central London.

MRI Software said that the first week of the month likely contributed to the overall average annual decline in footfall for April as activity declined by 10 per cent following the Easter weekend and the week leading up to the bank holiday.

"This also coincided with a fresh wave of rail strike action and Storm Kathleen sweeping through parts of the UK," it continued. "The change in holidays may have led to further year on year declines in the third and fourth weeks of the month as comparison periods shifted."

Shopping centre activity fell by 4.7 per cent year-on-year, while retail parks and High Streets saw footfall drop 2.4 per cent, with the analytics firm suggesting the events and attractions coincided with the Easter school holidays acted as a driver in encouraging visitors to towns and cities and ultimately minimised the decline.

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