Footfall on UK high streets up 2.7 percent in February

Consumer visits on the UK high streets have increased in February, as they shun shopping centres for a wider diversity offered by the former, according to a new research report.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC)/Springfield footfall monitor revealed that overall retail footfall increased 0.8 percent year-on-year in February, compared to a 4.6 percent decline in January.

Footfall on high streets rose 2.7 percent in the month, the strongest growth since December 2011. The high streets have been suffering from widespread store closures and job cuts as consumers control their spending habits amid austerity measures in the country.

Meanwhile, footfall declined 1.6 percent in shopping centres and 1.5 percent in out-of-town retail parks. However, the figures represent a significant improvement on January figures.

"This is a respectable result, which tallies with the signs of gradual improvement shown in our February sales figures. Even though overall footfall is only marginally up on last year, the signs are that conversion rates were good. New ranges gave shoppers a spring in their step and end-of-season promotions also proved popular," Helen Dickinson, BRC director general said in a statement.

"February 2013 was generally milder than the snow-hit month we saw the previous year, which is a surefire factor behind High Streets posting their best result since December 2011. This is definitely the standout story for February, but it's only the third time in twelve months that high street footfall rates have edged over zero."

BRC, however, noted that the link between the number of shops and shoppers was evident in February with the North and Yorkshire, which has England's highest vacancy rate, reporting the lowest footfall during the month.

"The disparity could be explained by the recent decline in multiples being primarily located in shopping centres and retail parks, with high streets offering a wider diversity," Diane Wehrle, research director at Springboard said commenting on the difference in footfall on high streets and shopping centres.

"For the high street, one swallow does not make a summer, but these results might hint at the green shoots of recovery, or at least some stabilisation in the current environment."