Footfall soars over first week of retail trading

The latest data from retail experts Springboard reveals that the first week of non-essential retail reopening in England delivered the most fundamental change in footfall in UK retail destinations since the start of the lock down, with a significant rise from the week before on every day of the week. Between Monday 15th June and Sunday 22nd June, footfall across all UK retail destinations rose by +45% from the previous week, driving an improvement in the annual result for the UK to -54%, from around -80% in the middle of lock down.

The clearest indication of the impact of non-essential retail reopening is evident from the uplifts in footfall in high streets and shopping centres, where very few stores were open before 15 June. Footfall rose in UK high streets and shopping centres by +47.5% and +45% respectively. These rises were nearly double the increase in footfall in retail parks of +27.1%, reflecting the fact that retail parks had already recorded increases in footfall over the preceding weeks. In retail parks, food stores and home stores were already trading, the increase in footfall was more modest.

Footfall across the UK rose by more than +30% each day from the same day in the week before, apart from on Thursday when there was heavy rain; but even then, footfall still rose by +25.1% over the week. In England, on Monday 15th June when retail reopened, footfall rose by +41.7%; this was the greatest uplift of any day in the week apart from on Sunday when footfall rose by +49.5%, albeit that footfall volumes on a Sunday are generally around a half of those on a Saturday.

In retail destinations in England, footfall rose by +46.7% from the week before, compared with just +8.5% in Wales and +11.5% in Scotland. This brought the annual change in footfall in England to -47.7% versus -68.8% in Wales and -66.5% in Scotland. In the West End of London footfall rose from the week before by slightly more than across England’s high streets (+55.9% in the West End versus +51.1% in England). However, footfall in London’s West End still remains at a much lower level than last year; 80.8% lower in the West End in 2019 compared with 59.2% lower in England’s high streets.

Diane Wehrle, Insights director at Springboard said: “The opening of non-essential retail in England on Monday 15 June had a substantial impact on footfall across all retail destinations. The overall result for the UK was subdued by Scotland and Wales where retail reopening is yet to happen. We anticipate an additional uplift to come when retail in these areas of the UK also reopens and the hospitality and entertainment industry is given the green light to resume trading in the coming weeks.”

Jace Tyrrell, chief executive at New West End Company said: “The disparity between the national and central London footfall figures highlights the need for further Government action to ensure that retail and hospitality businesses can run viably throughout the summer and beyond. In the West End, we are hindered by a lack of international visitors and restrictions to the use of public transport, and businesses are being further held back by unnecessary regulations. Measures including reducing social distancing measures from 2m to 1m, the temporary relaxation of planning and licensing regulations for bars and restaurants, and relaxing Sunday trading laws in key retail destinations will boost sales and sustain footfall of local shoppers, then domestic and overseas visitors, and ensure that our businesses can survive through the summer months.”

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