Sep 15, 2020
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UK footfall recovery stalls as kids return to school

Sep 15, 2020

The UK’s footfall recovery seems to have stalled with the latest figures from tracking firm Springboard showing a 6.3% week-on-week drop in the seven days to September 12.

Central London footfall remains weak - Photo: Sandra Halliday

High streets saw a decline of 5.4% and retail parks 5.2%, while shopping centre footfall fell as much as 9%.

If retailers had hoped children returning to school would free up their parents to get back to their offices and get back to shopping, they were disappointed, especially as the year-on-year decline widened from 25% to 27.5%.

Footfall in high streets is now 33.7% lower than last year, and it’s 31.2% lower in shopping centres.

The negative impact of the start of the school term and consequent tailing off of staycations was evident in the greater drop in footfall in towns that appeal to holiday-makers, Springboard said. Footfall in coastal and historic towns dropped by more than in high streets generally (by 9.8% in coastal towns and by 7.7% in historic towns). 

There was also a proportionately greater decline in footfall in regional cities of 7.9%, although footfall in Central London dropped by ‘only’ 3% week-on-week, offering a glimmer of hope. Yet year-on-year, Central London footfall is still down over 55%.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard, said: “The back-to-school boost to footfall ended sharply last week. Whilst this is a pattern of consumer activity that Springboard has come to expect (we have seen this drop occur in all but one year since we starting publishing our footfall indices in 2009) the magnitude of the drop has been larger than in any previous year. This signifies the continued impact of many Brits continuing to work from home as offices across the UK remain closed.”

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