UK high streets are expected to be busy this Easter weekend, with forecasters predicting an increase in the number of people going out to spend money on food and drink.
Mild spring weather and the fact that the bank holiday weekend falls not long after March’s payday, are expected to lead to an 8.8% increase in the number of shoppers on the high street, according to the latest footfall predictions from retail analyst Springboard. In total, footfall to all outlets, including retail parks, is expected to be up by 5.4% year on year, in contrast to a 1.9% fall over Easter 2016.
Springboard director Diane Wehrle said: “Last year Easter took place on 25 March, a few days in advance of national payday for many shoppers. This combined with poor weather, impacted footfall, which declined across retail destinations from Easter Saturday onwards.”
She added: “Mild spring weather is forecast for this Easter, which falls after the national payday. This strongly indicates that more shoppers will visit retail destinations over the weekend compared with last year.”
Springboard said retail footfall was up by 1.2% in March following six months of decline, but there was a move towards evening spending at food and drink outlets as shoppers prioritised experiences over goods. It said while, historically, 25% of sales in stores over the long Easter weekend were made in fashion retailers and 10% were at food and beverage outlets, this year it expected the figures to move towards 20% and 15% respectively.
Separate figures from Visa show a modest rise in household spending in March, with the increase of 1% year on year slightly below February’s figure of 1.6%. However, while spending on household goods, and clothing and footwear was down, spending on recreation and culture was up by 7.2%, while hotels saw a 4% boost.
Springboard said its prediction that high streets would be busy over the holiday period was “a reflection of their resilience over the year to date; their adaptability and diverse hospitality offering means they are able to expand and respond to trends more quickly than retail parks and shopping centres”.
However, online sales will continue to grow much more rapidly than visits to retailers, with ecommerce data firm PCA Predict forecasting a 17% increase in transactions over the four-day weekend.
Visa’s figures also underlined the shift towards online shopping, with virtual retailers recording a 8.2% increase in spending in March, while the high street reported a 1.3% fall.
Chris Harle at PCA Predict said Easter Monday was typically one of the busiest days of the year for online shopping, and this year was unlikely to be different. He said customers were increasingly using mobile phones and tablets to do their shopping, and these channels were expected to account for 49% of online purchases over the weekend.
“With good weather in sight, it is likely that mobile shoppers will continue to make purchases out in the sunshine via smartphone or tablet … We are also likely to see consistent mobile usage throughout the day, including over the dinner table, with few dramatic spikes.”