High streets gain as retail parks lose shoppers

Despite concerns that British high streets are deteriorating, new research shows shoppers still favour them over retail parks and shopping centres

The number of shoppers visiting British high streets is on the rise, according to new research by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and shopping habits organisation Springboard.

February saw the number of shoppers on the high street rise by 2.7% compared to February 2012, while shoppers in out-of-town locations and shopping centres dropped by 1.5% and 1.6% respectively.

The research attributes these figures to weather conditions which may draw shoppers outside.

Diane Wehrle, research director at Springboard, said: “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.”

She added that the increase on the high street and decrease elsewhere might also be explained by the fact that shopping centres and out-of-town shopping sites have been reliant on the chains that have recently shut down, whereas high streets offer wider diversity.

Another reason for high streets clawing back shoppers is their range of food and drink outlets, where shoppers are reported to be spending more money. According to Wehrle, Springboard has “identified that food and beverage outlets have performed better than retail over the last year or so, and high streets have a greater range of food and drink outlets than the average shopping centre.”

However, she added that bad weather in March meant a bigger drop in high street shoppers than elsewhere.