Dec 29, 2020
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UK footfall plunges, West End is ghost town as spending shifts online

Dec 29, 2020

Footfall to UK retail destinations was a big disappointment immediately after Christmas as Boxing Day (December 26), which used to be one of the biggest shopping days of the year, was hit by lockdowns in many parts of the UK.

Photo: Sandra Halliday

And Central London, which is traditionally a magnet for shoppers on Boxing Day, saw a massive year-on-year fall of more than 80% as near-deserted shopping streets underlined the tough year the usually crowded West End has endured.

Tracking specialist Springboard said that Boxing Day’s overall decline was 60% year-on-year and in Tier 4 areas, where all non-essential retail stores are closed, it was 75.9% lower than a year ago.

But even in Tiers 2 and 3 - where non-essential retail remains open - footfall was significantly lower than the same day in 2019 (it was 33.1% lower in Tier 2 and 38.5% lower in Tier 3).

Some areas were already in Tier 4 but other areas saw new rules coming into force on December 26 and this clearly hurt consumers’ ability (and desire) to go shopping.

But the results were mixed for different destinations with retail parks seeing a decline in footfall of 45% versus 65.4% in shopping centres and 63.3% on high streets.

In coastal towns, footfall declined by 40.2% and market towns saw a decline of 52.2%, indicating that areas of the UK are still shopping local. But this is in stark contrast with regional cities where footfall fell by 72.2% and Central London where footfall plunged a massive 84.1%.


That news came as Barclaycard said that Britons planned to spend an average of £162 each online in the post-Christmas sales, totalling £2.7bn billion across the UK.

The surprisingly high amount was largely down to Britons feeling especially generous, with a quarter planning to treat loved ones they have missed this year”.

And underlining the Springboard figures, it added that "the majority of shoppers will turn online for their sales fix, even where non-essential stores are open”.

Some 33% of consumers said they planned to spend more in the post-Christmas sales than they did during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with the main reason cited being that the post-Christmas deals are better (32%).

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