Aug 30, 2022
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UK bank holiday footfall buoyant on resilient consumer appetite

Aug 30, 2022

UK retail footfall was reasonably buoyant in late August with the public holiday weekend not denting consumer appetites for visiting stores, two reports showed on Tuesday.

Image: Heart of London Business Alliance

That said, the figures for the whole week of 22-28 August from Ipsos Retail Performance’s weekly tracker showed that across the UK, footfall was still down 12.3% compared to 2019 in the non-food sector.  And it was down 1% week on week.

But for the holiday weekend, the big news was that footfall was actually up 4.3% against the same pre-pandemic weekend and was also up week on week, with an 1.8% rise.

Towns outperformed cities by 7% points with city footfall up 2.4% against 2019 and 0.5% against the previous week, while for towns the figures were +7.5% and +1.5%.

Shopping centres looked good against 2019 (up 6%) but only rose 0.6% against the previous week, while for high streets the figures were 3.6% and 0.3%. Retail parks again outperformed, with rises of 8.1% and 5.5% against 2019 and last week.

But as mentioned, the flurry at the weekend clearly came at the expense of other shopping days earlier in the week. That dragged the figures down as a whole.

High streets were down 9.1% compared to 2019 and -0.8% compared to the previous week. For retail parks the figures were deficits of 12.8% and 1.2% respectively and in shopping centres there were down 14.8% compared to 2019 but up 1.1% week on week.

Looking at the weekend activity in more detail, alternative tracking specialist Springboard’s figures showed a UK-wide rise of 5.4% on Saturday and 5.3% on Sunday, but a 6.4% drop on Monday.

Diane Wehrle, Director of Insights at Springboard, said: “The favourable weather over the bank holiday encouraged shoppers to visit UK retail destinations. High streets benefited from the warm and sunny weather, and were the winners with footfall 8% higher than the week before on Saturday and 9.4% higher on Sunday.

But she also said “Monday appeared to be a day for consumers to either travel or to stay home, with a drop in footfall from the previous week across all UK destinations. The drop in activity on Monday was driven by high streets and shopping centres where footfall declined from the week before by 10.1% and 11.5% respectively. However, footfall in retail parks rose by 6.8% as shoppers replenished food and groceries for the week ahead.”

She added that across the different types of high streets, the clear winners were those towns that are attractive to visitors, with a strong uplift on Saturday and Sunday in coastal and historic towns, and also in market towns and in regional cities outside of London across the UK. 

On Sunday footfall in coastal towns was 24.3% higher than the previous week and 17.7% higher in historic towns.  Shoppers also visited city centres across the UK over the weekend, with an average rise in footfall of 10.4% over Saturday and Sunday, versus just 3.1% in Central London.

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