Feb 15, 2021
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UK footfall edges up again, hints at pent-up demand post-lockdown

Feb 15, 2021

The weather may not have been great last week and non-essential shops may have stayed closed, but footfall to retail destinations continued to rise, having done so steadily in recent weeks. 

The UK was still in lockdown in the week leading up to Valentine's Day, but footfall still rose - Photo: Javier Gonzalez/Pixabay

Latest data from specialist tracker Springboard showed that the general trend of lockdown fatigue means more and more consumers are going shopping. 

This possibly bodes well for when non-essential shops are eventually allowed to reopen, especially as the vaccine rollout seems to be so successful. When shops reopened last June, consumers were still cautious about visiting them, but the vaccines mean they’re more confident this time round and that could mean a spending boom for non-essential stores.

But that's all in the future and Springboard said that footfall across UK retail destinations rose by 1.5% week-on-week in the seven days to Saturday. That followed a 6.7% increase in the previous seven days.

Footfall to high streets declined by 1.7%, which was perhaps understandable considering the snow that covered much of the country. However shopping centres saw a rise of 3.9% and retail parks were up an impressive 6.1%.

The figures look even better given that between Sunday and Tuesday there was an average decline of 7%, but once the worst of the snow was over, that decline went into reverse and the rise in the remaining four days averaged 7%.

Springboard said it was interesting “and perhaps reflective of the pent-up demand amongst shoppers to venture out (and certainly contra to what would be expected in heavy snow conditions when shoppers tend to stay local), [that] footfall in regional cities rose by 1.7% whilst in smaller market towns it declined by 1.4%”.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. While the week-on-week increases looked strong, footfall remained well down year-on-year. Compared to the second week of February last year, footfall overall was down more than 61% and down almost 70% on high streets. Shopping centres were down nearly 71% and retail parks down over 34%.

In Central London – usually the UK's largest shopping hub – visitor traffic was down 89% compared to a year ago and it fell 1% week-on-week in the latest seven days.

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