UK footfall edges closer to pre-pandemic level over sunny Easter Weekend
The news on Easter footfall to retail destinations was mainly good on Tuesday morning as the Ipsos Retail Traffic Index (RTI) showed a week-on-week rise and — most importantly — a relatively small fall compared to the pre-pandemic Easter period.
In fact overall footfall across the UK from Friday 15 April to Monday 18 April was down only 5.4% compared to the 2019 period, when Easter also happened in mid-to-late April. Week-on-week, footfall was up 2%.
That three-year figure is the narrowest margin since the pandemic first started affecting UK retail visitor traffic in late February 2022.
And the figure was particularly significant because the RTI measures consumers actually going into stores rather than just being in the area.
Footfall to cities was down only 0.9% against 2019 but down 9.9% on the week, while towns were down 11.8% on a three-year comparison and up 2.9% against the previous week.
What that all means for specific types of destination is that high streets were down 12.8% (three years) and up 5.9% (week-on-week), while retail parks were up 3% and 7%, and shopping centres were down 6.1% and 5.3%.
What’s clear from this is that some destinations were able to make the most of the sunny weather over the holiday weekend but some locations (like covered shopping centres) were shunned as consumers made the most of the sunshine.
Ipsos said small holiday towns “were most successful as many headed to the coast to enjoy the warm weather”. However, before we get too carried away, although these destinations recovered well compared to the week before, “they are still well below the numbers recorded in Easter of 2019”.
That sums up the overall picture. There may be plenty of optimism around the latest figures given the comparisons with 2019, but three years on, the retail sector still has plenty of work to do to catch up to where it was at the end of the last decade.
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