March saw the first year-on-year rise in footfall in non-food stores for over two years rising by 1.6% since February, according to Ipsos’ Retail Performance Retail Traffic Index.
Average weekly footfall was also up on the previous month, by 4.4% and was up across all parts of the UK.
Ipsos said the direction of travel in the three-month trend has been improving since May last year. Though still negative compared to the same period the previous year, the gap has narrowed from 11.4% to 2.3%.
Dr Tim Denison, director of retail intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance, said: “Last year Easter straddled March and April, so, on first take, year-on-year growth this year is positive news for retail demand. However, March 2018 also contained the ‘Beast from the East’, which decimated footfall by almost 30% in the first week of the month.
He added: “This year, average weekly footfall was up compared to February, the first time this has happened in a March that did not contain Easter since 2014. Until a course of action crystallises and the consequences become understood, the ongoing Brexit saga appears to be having little direct impact on consumer behaviour.
“Retail continues to be a tough market and this week’s news about the fate of Debenhams is just another reminder, not that we need one. You have to feel empathy with retailers who have no clue yet as to which of their business scenarios, they have planned for, they will face in the months ahead. In the meantime, they just have to remain stacked and circling in Business As Usual.”