April brings ray of sunshine to high street

highstreet South endApril brought a ray of sunshine to the high street with footfall improving.

According to the BRC, high streets reported a rise of 3.4 percent, the strongest performance since December 2011, followed by out-of-town, which grew by 0.3 percent.

However the better weather didn’t warm everyone with footfall in shopping centres falling by  three percent in April, its worst performance since January 2013.

And empty stores remained a problem with the national town centre vacancy rate in the UK standing at 11.9 in April, up from 10.9 percent in January 2013 and marking the highest rate since the BRC survey began in July 2011.

Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium Director General, said it was a “major concern” that the vacancy rate has reached a record high, driven by increases in almost every part of the UK, with some regions like the South West seeing a significant leap in empty shop numbers.

She added that with high streets topping the agenda for many there was a real opportunity “to seize the moment and stem the tide of further closures”.

“Comparatively small steps to tackle deep-rooted issues such as parking, accessibility and rising business costs could make a huge difference to the health of town centres,” she added.

Diane Wehrle, Retail Insights Director at Springboard, added the improved weather made a “significant difference” to footfall performance across the UK in April, with an improvement from -5.2 percent year-on-year in March to 1.0 percent in April.