High streets have been hit hardest by March’s cold weather as footfall declined 7% in comparison to last year’s figure, it has been revealed.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard’s Footfall Monitor highlighted a 5.2% drop in overall retail footfall last month, compared to March 2012, while out-of-town locations and shopping centres also saw a decline in figures of 4.2% and 2.4% respectively.

Helen Dickinson, director general of the BRC, said: “The prolonged cold was the main culprit for deterring shoppers, especially compared against the far milder March of 2012. Although footfall did pick up around the Easter weekend, it couldn’t fully compensate for a weak showing across the month as a whole.

“High streets were hit the hardest by the cold snap, as many of us favoured shopping under shelter rather than braving the elements. In February, high streets had been the stand-out performer, but March saw footfall growth slumping back to subzero territory – high streets’ worst result since July 2012.”

Diane Wehrle, retail insights director at Springboard, said: “Despite high streets seeing a strong performance in February, predictably the bad weather, plus the Budget and media attention given to the reform to the benefit system have hit consumer confidence.

“High street footfall dropped, with just one in five towns recording positive results. Moreover, the average increase among towns in which footfall did increase was just 6.9% compared with an average decline of 11.4% amongst those high streets whose footfall fell from March last year.”

She added that the final week of the month yielded some positive results, as retail park footfall rose 7.9% against the previous week, attributing it to shoppers taking advantage of the long Easter Bank Holiday to visit DIY out-of-town outlets.