Springboard: decline in retail footfall ‘three times greater than the worst recorded’

Retail intelligence expert Springboard revealed today (Monday March 23) that we are starting to see the true impact of Coronavirus on consumer activity.

The result for the week before last – which began to reveal the potential impact of Coronavirus on consumer activity – pales into insignificance against the result for last week, where footfall declined by -21.7% from the previous week, and by -28% over the year.

Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle commented:The decline in footfall week-on-week was on par with the drop normally only ever seen in the week post-Christmas. The annual change represented an unprecedented decline in retail footfall that was three times greater than the worst result we have ever previously recorded.”

According to Springboard data, high streets were hit hardest, with a drop in footfall of -31% from the week before and -41% from the same week in 2019. This result was unsurprising following the closure of many high street staples such as John Lewis and Topshop. The panic buying of food and household essentials meant that in retail parks – where many large food stores are situated – footfall declined by only -2.9% on both a weekly and annual basis.

As the week progressed, footfall across destinations as a whole deteriorated each day, moving from a week-on-week drop of -18.2% on Sunday to -38% on Saturday, and likewise on an annual basis from -22.9% on Sunday to -48% on Saturday.

In retail parks, however, the pattern of consumer activity was very different, with both weekly and annual increases on four consecutive days between Monday to Thursday, averaging +2.5% on a weekly basis, and +3.3% annually. By Friday and Saturday, however, the panic buying had started to ease, with footfall declining on both days on a weekly and annual basis, and at an increasing rate. On Saturday, footfall in retail parks was -13.4% lower than on the same Saturday in the previous week and -18% lower than the same Saturday in 2019.

Geographically, the drop in footfall was in excess of -20% in every area of the UK. Inevitably, London was hit hardest with an annual drop in footfall of -31.1% over the week. It is not a surprise that the annual drop in footfall in Central London was far higher at -63.3%, but with more residents working at home, the decline in footfall in outer London was more modest at -21.9%.

Springboard tracks and forecasts footfall across all key retail destination types, recording over 70 million footfall counts per week at 4,500 counting points across 480 different shopping sites in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Springboard is part of the Government High Street Task Force working to revitalise local high streets across the UK.


Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle

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