HIGH streets and shopping centres saw a dive in footfall last month after the UK was battered by storms and wet weather, according to new figures.

The latest monthly BRC-ShopperTrak Footfall Monitor has revealed that total UK footfall fell by 2% year-on-year in February.

It said this was significantly below recent 1.1% growth over the past three months, after the UK retail market was previously buoyed by increased political certainty following the December General Election.

Elsewhere, shopping centres saw footfall decline rapidly, sliding 7% for the month as shoppers shunned the retail sites in the face of storms Ciara and Dennis.

Meanwhile, retail parks reported a 1.5% fall in footfall for the month, below the average of 0.8% growth in the past three months.

READ MORE: Why are we not listening to the people who matter?

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Multiple storms took their toll on footfall this February, particularly for shopping centres and high streets.

“The decline was less marked for retail parks, which provide easy parking and offered some salvation from the rain.”

The head of the industry group said the decline was not related to coronavirus, with the outbreak potentially leading to increased activity at the end of the month as customers stockpiled some products.

Dickinson added: “There was a slight boost in footfall in the final week, where concerns around coronavirus may have contributed to an increase in store visits.”

The impact of the storms was also particularly badly felt in certain regions across the UK, according to the survey.

READ MORE: Flybe collapse: Up to 1000 workers could lose jobs following closure

Andy Sumpter, retail consultant at ShopperTrak, said: “While January saw shopper levels on the high street boosted by the ‘Boris Bounce’, February was a different story.

“Named the wettest February on record, we also had three named storms, which all arrived over weekend trading, and certainly dampened shopper traffic levels.”

Despite the high street challenges, Next is set to unveil a strong showing over the past year.

The fashion retailer is expected to post higher profits and revenues when it reveals its final figures for the 12 months to January on Thursday March 19.

At the start of January, Next estimated that annual profits would surpass its initial forecast of £725 million, saying they were expected to be nearer a new target of £727m for the year.

It is expected to hit that forecast following a better-than-expected Christmas period driven by strong online growth. City analysts have also suggested that, although Next is expected to predict an impact from coronavirus on its trading outlook, the retailer is comparably well-placed to cope with a steep reduction in high-street footfall.

Experts at Citi upgraded its advice from “sell” to “neutral” for the Next stock, arguing that it believes that the 40% sell-off in Next in recent weeks has been “excessive”.