Icy March caused shoppers to stay at home

The bad weather caused many shoppers to think twice about going out. Picture: Jane Barlow
The bad weather caused many shoppers to think twice about going out. Picture: Jane Barlow
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Bad weather last month led to a decline in high street shopping, according to a report.

• Coldest March for 50 years leads to drop in shoppers.

• High streets were worst hit by bitter conditions.

Prolonged snow showers and low temperatures caused a 3.8% fall in footfall in Scottish shops compared to March last year.

The numbers are also down on shopping numbers from February but the situation in Scotland was better than the rest of the UK where shopper numbers fell by 5.2%, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said.

Scottish Retail Consortium director Fiona Moriarty said: “The coldest March for 50 years was to blame for putting off many Scottish shoppers, and measures up particularly badly against the much milder weather we had during the same month in 2012.

“Scottish footfall was above the UK average, but that makes it the second best of a bad bunch in a month when no areas showed growth.

“Retailers in Scotland will be hoping that the late onset of more Spring-like weather makes shopping trips and seasonal ranges more appealing to customers.”

High streets were worst hit according to the figures with a 7% decline over the year. Covered shopping centres performed better but still saw a fall of 2.4%.


Diane Wehrle, a director of consumer analyst company Springboard, said media attention around the Budget and benefit reforms have hit consumer confidence.

The final week of the month did yield some positive results, with retail park footfall significantly bolstered,” she said.

“Home-owners took advantage of the long Easter bank holiday to visit DIY out-of-town outlets.

“It’s key to bear in mind that March 2013 was much colder than in 2012, where most of the UK experienced unseasonable soaring temperatures, whereas rain, snow and bitter cold further encouraged shoppers to stay at home.

“Despite high streets seeing a strong performance in February, predictably the bad weather, plus the Budget and media attention given to the reform to the benefit system have hit consumer confidence.”

The BRC-Springboard footfall monitor gathers data on customer activity throughout the UK using automated doorway counters.

On average, the monitor records over 60 million footfall counts per week at around 600 locations, the BRC said.