Footfall in retail drops, as schools return

Latest data from retail experts Springboard reveals that footfall across UK retail destinations declined by -6.3% last week from the week before. As the final wave of schools started their autumn term, UK retail destinations saw the first week on week decline in footfall since the end of April. This has led to the annual decline worsening to -27.5% from -25% in the week before.

In high streets and retail parks there were week on week declines of -5.4% and -5.2% respectively, whilst in shopping centres footfall dropped by -9%. Footfall in high streets is now 33.7% lower than last year, and 31.2% lower in shopping centres. Despite a drop in footfall in retail parks of -5.2% from the week before, the drop in footfall from the year before is just a third of that in high streets and shopping centres at -10.4%.

The impact of the start of the school term and consequent tailing off of staycations was evident in the greater drop in footfall in towns that appeal to holiday makers. Footfall in coastal towns and historic towns dropped by more than in high streets generally (by -9.8% in coastal towns and by -7.7% in historic towns).

However, this didn’t mean that people returned to their offices, as there was also a proportionately greater decline in footfall in regional cities of -7.9%, although footfall in Central London dropped by just -3%, offering a glimmer of hope.

Footfall declined in every part of the UK from the week before, with drops ranging from -4.1% in Scotland and -4.5% in Greater London to -9.2% in Wales and -7.9% in the South East. The largest annual decline of -33.3% was in Scotland, driven by much poorer performance in high streets where footfall remained 40.5% below last year.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard, commented: “The back to school boost to footfall ended sharply last week. Whilst this is a pattern of consumer activity that Springboard has come to expect – we have seen this drop occur in all but one year since we starting publishing our footfall indices in 2009 – the magnitude of the drop has been larger than in any previous year. This signifies the continued impact of many Brits continuing to work from home as offices across the UK remain closed.”

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