UK Easter footfall better than predicted as weekly retail visits rise again
Predictions of poor Easter Weekend retail footfall ahead of the reopening of non-essential retail on 12 April were wide of the mark as activity across all destinations for the latest week increased yet again, according to Springboard.
First the weekly figures. Footfall increased by a total 8.5% week-on-week for the seven days between 28 March and 3 April, fuelled primarily by the warm weather at the beginning of the week.
Having passed the anniversary of Lockdown 1, footfall last week was 68.1% higher than in the same week in 2020, but still 57.3% lower than in 2019.
On a week-on-week basis, high streets and retail parks saw footfall increase by 9% and 9.7% respectively but the 6.3% rise in shopping centres was a third lower as shoppers gravitated to sunnier external environments, Springboard noted.
The warmer temperatures in the south of the UK meant that the rise in footfall in Greater London and the South East and South West averaged 10.8% versus an average of 6.7% elsewhere.
While over the four-day Easter weekend, footfall was 7.6% lower than over the same four days in the week before, in Central London and other large cities, footfall was three times as great as it had been over Easter 2020 (+200.5% in Central London and +209.3% in regional cities).
Easter weekend high street visits more than doubled year-on-year, days before a broader unlocking of the economy. On Good Friday and Easter Saturday, visits to high streets were up 134% compared to this time last year, while retail parks and shopping centres also saw a similar boost despite closures of non-essential stores.
On Easter Sunday, footfall was up 100%. However, visits were still down 67% on pre-Covid figures.
The cold weather on Monday impacted the overall result for the Easter weekend, with a drop in footfall on Monday from the week before of 20.2% across all retail destinations, although footfall rose in retail parks (+8.7%) as shoppers replenished food after the weekend.
Despite the generally not bad news, Ipsos had predicted that retailers were set to miss out on a potential 10% boost to footfall over the Easter weekend as consumers preferred to wait unit retail opened up fully from 12 April.
Meanwhile, Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, said: “With exceptional weather across most of the UK it was not a surprise that last week footfall rose across all retail destinations from the week before, and with the warmest weather occurring in the south it was unsurprising that this part of the UK that benefited the most.
She added: “The Easter weekend was a week earlier than in 2020, with Good Friday and Easter Saturday overlapping the end of the week. The Easter weekend as a whole (Friday to Monday) was disappointing with a drop in footfall from the same four days in the previous week, however, the bank holiday weekend was hampered by the cold weather on Monday. Despite this, footfall was more than double that over Easter in 2020 although still more than a half lower than over Easter in 2019”.
The figures come as analysts at PwC said consumer spending intentions were at their highest level since 2008. Heavily restricted consumers have “more disposable income and a pent-up demand to spend after a year of lockdown restrictions”, it said.
It added that improvements in consumer confidence were highest among the over-65s demographic, with the vast majority of the older consumers having received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine.
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