Stability returns to UK retail footfall
With stable weather patterns returning to the UK in the final full week of February, normality also returned to retail footfall.
Visits across all UK retail destinations rose 11.1% week-on-week in the seven days spanning 20-26 February. That’s in marked contrast to the week before when it dropped by 3.8% as Storms Dudley and Eunice struck, according to Springboard.
However, this uplift mostly came from a bounce back in footfall seen on Friday and Saturday. Here, footfall averaged 43.3% higher than the week before, helped by the sunny weather on these days. That compared to an average decline of 22.3% over these two days in the previous week.
Over the five days from Sunday to Thursday, footfall declined by an average of 0.2% from the week before, with drops on three of the five days. On Tuesday and Wednesday however, footfall rose, with the largest rise occurring in UK high streets, up 13.4%, as shopping centres rose 8.9% in and retail parks by 2.6%.
Footfall rose in all town types last week, up 17% in Central London and 20.3% in Springboard's ‘Back to the Office’ benchmark, indicating more workers are returning to the office following the government’s removal of Covid restrictions.
However, in city centres outside of the capital the increase was lower at +10% and only +0.4% over the four days from Monday to Thursday, versus +7.2% over the four days in Central London, indicating that footfall in London last week was likely to have been boosted by half-term family trips.
Despite the volatility in day-to-day footfall last week, the overall increase meant that the gap from the 2019 level narrowed noticeably, to -17.2% from -26.3% in the week before.
Meanwhile, according to Ipsos, latest weekly footfall for 21-26 February in the non-food retail sector across the UK was down 18.6% compared to the corresponding week in pre-pandemic 2019.
It also said towns outperformed cities by 5.2% for the week and the best performing region was Northern England where store visits were only down 13.2%.
It all shows that visitor traffic to UK retail destinations remains some way off total normality and a return to pre-Covid patterns for now.
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