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Milder Weather Puts a Spring in the Step of UK Retailers

British shops saw footfall rise in March as milder spring weather offered a boost to the nation’s retailers, an industry group has said.

Footfall rose 1.4% last month compared with the previous year, according to data gathered by the British Retail Consortium and retail analyst Springboard. That capped a 15-month streak of consecutive declines in store visits as Brexit uncertainty has hampered consumer confidence and rising online sales have further squeezed high-street retailers.

High-street stores and retail parks saw the most of the increase, with footfall rising by 2.5% and 1.5%, respectively, last month compared with March 2018. That outweighed a continued decline in visits to shopping centers, which saw footfall in the same period fall by 1%.

Despite the positive uptick in March, the pressure on retailers remained, the two groups said, with last month’s rise merely reflecting a minor improvement on March of last year, when footfall slumped 6% as a result of exceptionally bad weather.

While the figures might give the U.K.’s struggling retail sector some comfort, the higher footfall did not translate into higher consumer spending, the BRC said.

“The result clearly indicates that we continue to be in the midst of a no-splurge culture; with consumer confidence continuing to languish, shoppers are clearly focused on prudence,” said Diane Wehrle, Springboard’s marketing and insights director.
Source: Dow Jones

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