UK high streets reawaken as weekly retail footfall rises again
Another week, another rise in UK retail footfall. Overall visits to retail destinations rose 0.5% last week (14-20 March), according to retail experts Springboard.
However, the rise was wholly driven by a 4% increase in high street visits while footfall in both retail parks and shopping centres declined 4.4% and 2.3% respectively.
Footfall in every type of high street rose by at least 5% from the week before, reaching +7.8% in major city centres outside London.
The rise was down to the easing of restrictions in Wales and schools returning in Scotland, with increases in high street footfall in both nations of 17% and 19.4% respectively, versus just 3% in England, the research shows.
Performance across the week was “volatile” for all three destination types, but there was a distinct peak on Wednesday when the rain - which had been a persistent feature between Sunday and Tuesday - cleared in many places for just one day, noted Springboard.
The report said the overall gain for the latest reported week reflected a massive difference from the same week in 2020, when the government was advising the UK population to work from home and not travel ahead of the first lockdown. In that week, footfall dropped by a staggering 21.7% - the first time Springboard had recorded such a decline.
The decline last year means that the annual change of -40.8% last week looks more favourable than it has done since the summer of 2020 and significantly better than the annual result of -52.7% in the week before, it noted. By contrast, the more relevant comparison with 2019 reveals an annual decline of 56.5%.
Diane Wehrle, Insights director at Springboard said: “Footfall across UK retail destinations continued to strengthen last week, with a modest rise from the week before. At the same time, the annual decline improved significantly but this is a distortion created by a huge drop in footfall in the same week last year as we approached the start of the first Lockdown on Monday 23rd March 2020”.
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