Retail footfall boosted by ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme

Latest data from retail experts Springboard reveals that footfall across UK retail destinations rose by +3.8% last week from the week before, and the uplift was shared by all three key destination types; in high streets footfall rose by +4.5%, in shopping centres by +3% and by +3.3% in retail parks. Between Sunday and Wednesday the rise in footfall averaged +8.2%, however, there was an element of distortion due to a rise in footfall of +20.6% on Monday in response to a decline of -8.9% in the week before due to heavy rain.

On Tuesday and Wednesday footfall rose by an average of +2.6% which is actually less than half the rise of +5.9% over the same two days in the week before. Between Thursday and Saturday footfall declined marginally, by -0.5%, versus a rise of +4.5% on those three days in the previous week.

It appears that the Eat Out to Help Out scheme last week benefited retail destinations post 6pm more than at lunchtime, and it was also smaller towns across the UK which gained a larger uplift in footfall than large city centres. Over the three days between Monday and Wednesday footfall rose in retail destinations across the UK by+18.9%post 6pm versus a rise of+9.6% at lunchtime(12pm to2pm). And in market towns across the UK the rise in footfall of +25% from the same three days in the week before was a third higher than the rise of +19.2% in regional cities.

The distortion created by a rise in footfall on Monday due to a drop the week before when there was heavy rain means that Tuesday and Wednesday provide a more balanced comparison, and on these two days footfall across the UK post 6pm rose by an average of +12.2% from the week before. In market towns across the UK the rise in footfall was nearly double that, +22.6% higher than the previous week compared with +10.3% in regional cities. In contrast at lunchtime on Tuesday and Wednesday footfall declined across the UK by -0.6%, rising by just +1.6% in market towns and declining by -2% in regional cities.

Whilst footfall across all UK retail destinations remains more than a third lower than in 2019, with a year on year decline last week of -34%, it has started a positive trajectory with rises across all three of the destination types. The greatest upward shift occurred in high streets where footfall moved to a year on year decline of -40.2% from -44.3% in the previous week.

Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, commented: “The jury is still out regarding the benefit of the “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme which launched last week, although there were rises in footfall on each day between Monday and Wednesday from the week before. It is clear that it

was the post 6pm period that yielded the greatest rise in footfall, and also that smaller towns benefited more than large city centres. As the scheme continues throughout August and more Brits enjoy staycations across the UK, time will tell if the government scheme provides the boost that retail destinations across the country require for business survival.”

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