Shopping visits increased at their strongest rate for two years last month, suggesting consumers still want to use the high street despite the surge in online retail.
Figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard showed footfall rose by 1.2% in January compared to a year ago, the best performance since January 2014 – excluding distortions created by the timing of Easter.
It was the first time there has been any increase since March last year.
The figures follow a tough Christmas for retailers as footfall fell by 2.2% in December.
There was even an improvement for high street shopping locations, which have not seen any increases – excluding Easter – since July 2013 – but in January saw footfall rise by 0.2%.
Retail parks were flat and shopping centres continued their strong growth.
Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard said the data showed “that bricks and mortar shopping environments are still important to consumers”.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “The improvement in shopper footfall witnessed in January provided a timely and welcome fillip to retailers at the start of the year.”
The data comes after BRC figures last week showed that like-for-like retail sales including stores and online rose by 2.6% in January.