UK February footfall was 'robust' but concerns remain
Improving… could have been better… but will gains continue? That’s UK retail footfall, which strengthened slightly in February over the course of the month.
On the plus side, concerns over Omicron continued to diminish and helped strengthen consumer confidence. But ongoing gains were temporarily blow off course by Storms Eunice and Dudley in the third week and concerns over rises costs are growing, according to Springboard.
So footfall figures last month (from 30 January to 26 February) improved to 20.7% below the benchmark corresponding period in 2019 and up from -20.8% in January, the report said.
In the absence of the extreme weather in the third week of the month it’s likely the overall result for the month would have been around -18% below 2019, the report also noted.
By destination type, footfall last month declined from 2019 by -26.2% in high streets, -24.1% in shopping centres and -5.3% in retail parks.
But compared to January, footfall increased 9.1%, recording the largest single monthly uplift since June 2021 and nearly three times as great as the rise from September to October, before the Omicron variant hit.
Meanwhile, February’s uplift is a reverse of the result in six of the nine years up to and including 2019, when the annual change in footfall in February worsened from January despite the occurrence of the school half-term.
A modest drift back to the office left footfall in Central London and in cities outside London 31.9% and 29.8% below the 2019 level respectively in February, versus -27.3% in market towns and -20.2% in outer London.
Although Springboard’s Insights Director Diane Wehrle called the footfall performance across February “surprisingly robust,” she warned: “The concern for retailers over the coming months must be the likely impact on spending of rising household energy prices and fuel costs.”
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