- In April, footfall numbers in Wales were 3.6% lower than a year ago, down from the 1.7% fall in March 2015.
- The vacancy rate in Wales was 12.7%, a sharp decline from 15.5% in the previous quarter
- Footfall in April was 0.8% lower than a year ago, down from the 0.2% rise in March. This is below the three-month average of -0.3%.
- Both High Streets and Shopping Centres reported a decline, falling 0.1% and 3.0% respectively.
- Footfall in out-of-town locations fared the best with a 0.5% increase year-on-year, but this is the lowest figure since September 2014.
- Four regions and countries reported footfall above the UK average, with the East, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Greater London all reporting positive footfall growth.
- The national town centre vacancy rate was 10.2% in April 2015, down from the 10.4% rate reported in January 2015.
Diane Wehrle, Retail Insights Director at Springboard, said: “Once again footfall dropped in Wales by -3.6 per cent which is more significant than the -0.8 per cent drop across the UK, and it is the 15th month in a row in which footfall is lower than in the same month in the previous year. As it did last month activity declined in all three types of destination, albeit that retail parks performed slightly better than high streets and shopping centres. The vulnerability of retail destinations in Wales is evidenced by the fact that the drop in footfall in both high streets and shopping centres was greater in April than in March, and in shopping centres the decline was the largest since April 2014.
“Despite the ongoing decrease in footfall, the clear positive result in April was a significant drop in the vacancy rate to 12.7 per cent, from 15.5 per cent in January. So it seems that despite the shift of consumers to omni-channel shopping behaviour, town centre occupiers are seeing the benefit of having bricks and mortar stores as part of their proposition. Part of this improved position may well be a consequence of landlords adopting a more flexible approach in the face of the increasing number of retail leases that are expiring and, indeed, if this is the case then it appears to be a situation that is benefiting retail locations.”
David Lonsdale, Interim Head of the Welsh Retail Consortium, said: “Something of a mixed bag, these figures are in parts bad and good. We’ve grown accustomed in Wales over the past year to declining trends in shopper footfall and unfortunately these latest figures suggest that trajectory isn’t abating, with a further dip in footfall witnessed last month.
“Much more promising though is the improvement over the past quarter in the shop vacancy rate in our town centres and high streets. While one out of every eight retail premises in Wales remains empty, this is the lowest shop vacancy rate experienced in Wales over the past three years and comes at a time when the popularity of online shopping has never been greater. We would encourage policy makers in Wales to capitalise and build on the positive vacancy indicator by prioritising policies which support the retail industry to invest, hire and grow.”
Country and Region Footfall Analysis
- Four regions and countries reported positive footfall growth in April, with the East (1.9%) reporting footfall significantly above the UK average. While this is good news, most regions and nations showed a worsening picture compared with March 2015, although some of this can be attributed to Easter distortions in the data.
- Greater London showed the greatest improvement, reporting positive footfall growth for the first time since March 2014, up 1.1%. This is 1.6 percentage points above the three month average for the region.
- Footfall in Wales deteriorated in April, falling 3.6% after showing signs of improvement in the previous two months. Footfall in Northern Ireland remained at 1.2% while growth in Scottish footfall slowed to 1.1% from 1.7% in March 2015.
- The national town centre vacancy rate fell to 10.2% in April from 10.4% in January. Six regions and nations saw their vacancy rate slow, with a notable movement in Wales, falling 2.8 percentage points to 12.7%.