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Shoppers headed for stores rather than online over the Easter weekend – despite rain

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Shoppers deterred from high street visits over a rainy Easter weekend headed for retail parks and shopping centres, rather than taking their business online, new data suggests.

Visitor numbers to high streets fell by 9.6% on Friday and 6.9% on Saturday, compared to the same days last year, according to figures from Springboard .

But shoppers, it seems, did not turn online to buy, according to figures from PCA Predict, which suggested a 1.4% fall in ecommerce sales on Good Friday, compared to the same day last year. Rather, footfall in retail parks and shopping centres grew by 5%. On a relatively sunny Easter Sunday, Springboard figures suggest, retail sales grew by 0.7% on last year – including 1.9% growth on high streets – but on Easter Monday, measured up to 12 noon, more rain meant footfall was down again.

Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle said shoppers had definitely been visiting retail destinations over the Easter weekend, with higher footfall during trading hours, of 9am to 5pm. She said: “The appeal of retail parks and shopping centres is likely to be the draw of discounts offered by multiple retailers after a poor trading period this year. As well as this, the timing of national payday before Easter Weekend will also have helped to boost shopping trips as households were likely to have some discretionary spending budget available that had not yet been spent or allocated.

“Recent, adverse weather conditions will have also helped to boost footfall this Easter Weekend as many shoppers will have deferred shopping trips in previous weeks.”

Chris Boaz, head of marketing of PCA Predict, said: “While we expected sales growth to slow down this Easter, we’re surprised to see such a steep drop at 1.4% down from last year on Good Friday. Despite this weekend’s bad weather, shoppers have been hitting the high street instead of shopping online.”

“Although overall sales were down, what’s particularly interesting is that traffic to mobile devices continued growing. This year we’ve seen an increase in traffic across mobile devices, which points to the importance for retailers to optimise their websites and customer-facing platforms not only to improve data quality on the back-end, but to improve user experience and customer satisfaction.”

Wehrle added: “For bricks and mortar stores to be able to continue to attract shoppers generally, but particularly over key trading periods when consumers have so many other spending options, then they must work at enhancing their store environment and product ranges so they can compete with the convenience and choice offered online, but also with their competitors. This is where retailers which recently failed such as Toys R Us and Maplins went wrong – and also a number of other retailers which are struggling to achieve sales – they have not adapted sufficiently to provide a bricks and mortar retail offer that matches current consumer demands.”

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