Apr 19, 2021
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West End bounce-back starts, Saturday gets closer to pre-pandemic norm

Apr 19, 2021

Reopening week seems to have been a good one for retailers in England and Wales and especially for the hard hit West End of London.

New West End Company

Springboard said that in the week to Saturday, footfall was up more than 600% year-on-year and over 120% week-on-week. But it was still below what would be expected for that week in April. It was down nearly 60% compared to the same seven days in 2019.

The New West End Company said footfall was around 54% of the usual number of April visitors, but given that the body had expected it to be around 40%, that was a good result. And with Saturday April 17 seeing visitors levels around 70% of the pre-pandemic norm, that was even better. In comparison with last year's June reopening, overall footfall was 125% higher in the week.

Jace Tyrrell, Chief Executive of NWEC, called it “wonderful” and said it “reflects the public’s desire to safely reconnect with family and friends and enjoy their favourite brands once again, and also the resilience of the area. We hope that footfall continues to increase in a safe and sustainable way but, until international shoppers return, the West End will continue to need extra government support.”

He added that the area “desperately needs an extension of Sunday trading hours in Britain’s two international centres — London’s West End and Knightsbridge. As we look to the evolution of the high street in a post-pandemic London, we need to be able to give shoppers the flexibility they need to spend what they want, when they want, while generating more money for retailers and protecting jobs.”

Looking at the country as a whole, Springboard said footfall jumped 87.8% in the week. It rose by 126.6% in shopping centres, 93.2% in high streets and 35.3% in retail parks.

That meant footfall across all UK retail destinations is now just 25.4% lower than the 2019 pre-pandemic level.

As well as the big boost to Central London, it said footfall rose 116% in regional cities elsewhere in the UK. However, the decline in footfall in cities has been greater than in smaller towns which means that the gap from 2019 still remains significant (-40.3% in regional cities outside of London).

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