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UK retail sales impacted by dull and wet weather

Chair of IPM, Professor Cathy Parker, was interviewed on location at Grubs Boots in Bolton for BBC Breakfast this morning. You can watch here at 2hrs 45 in (8.45 am).

With ONS retail sales figures for March announced today, and after a dull and wet month, where rainfall was 27% more than average, in March, Cathy was asked how this affects people's spending habits and the high street.

"Bad weather - wet, windy, or unusually cold, does reduce overall footfall figures, which then impacts negatively on retail sales - people don’t like getting wet." she said.

"But, whilst wet weather especially reduces retail sales overall, the effect is not uniform - the sales of all products, or all shopping channels are not affected in the same way. We buy more of certain products, like waterproof gear, we tend to buy more on line than we do on the High Street, but even when we look at individual high streets - they are not all impacted in the same way. Even the time of year affects how much wet weather impacts footfall. For example, at Easter, bad weather can reduce footfall by around 5% according to MRI-Onlocation, who collect footfall data in retail centres across the UK".

The March ONS retail sales figures cover the Easter period so it is likely the poor weather has had more of an impact this month than usual. IPM's footfall research, undertaken with colleagues from the University of Cardiff, suggests that’s because there are more trips to speciality and holiday type towns, over the Easter period. These places are popular for a day out, where visitors will combine some shopping as part of a linked trip with a meal, a visit to an attraction, like a museum or a theme park, or a walk etc. These activities are even more sensitive to bad weather - so if the rain puts people off doing them, they probably won't visit the location at all - which reduces the potential footfall for the retailers there.


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Formed in 2006, the Institute of Place Management is the international professional body that supports people committed to developing, managing and making places better.

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