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Snowfall crippled January footfall, reveals BRC

Published: 18 February 2013
January's footfall fell by 4.6% year-on-year, the British Retail Consortium has revealed, despite reporting sales were up earlier this month.
Snowfall crippled January footfall, reveals BRC
The figure is a drop from December, which saw a 1.2% decline, and the weakest since April 2012 when shopper numbers fell by 6.9%.

Heavy snowfall during the second half of the month was blamed for the shortfall. Out-of-town locations reported the greatest fall at -7.2%, followed by shopping centres at -5.2% and high street at -3.3%.

The national town centre vacancy rate fell however, from 11.3% in October 2012 to 10.9% in January 2013.

BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: "This steep drop in footfall is obviously a cause for concern but, as our sales figures showed last week, fewer shoppers on the streets doesn't seem to have dented sales growth in January.

"The mid-month snow took its toll on numbers of people out braving the elements, especially when making journeys to out-of-town retail parks, but it seems that many of us stayed one step ahead of the big chill and bought more on fewer shopping trips.

"It's good news that the vacancy rate is slightly down on October 2012's record high. However, the UK average masks widespread variations, with Wales recording a particularly high rate compared with the previous quarter.

"If the Government wants to support reducing the vacancy rate further, it could really help by freezing business rates in April. The rising cost of doing business is a looming threat to the future health of retailers and high streets."

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