Mar 29, 2022
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UK weekly footfall rises in sunshine, but 'normal' figures still a long way off

Mar 29, 2022

UK footfall may still be down compared to the pre-pandemic period, but in the latest week, it saw a major improvement compared to the previous seven days, offering hope that the upturn can continue.

Photo: Sandra Halliday

Two separate sets of figures showed a week-on-week improvement in visitor traffic to retail destinations.

Ipsos said that across the UK, footfall in the week ending March 27 was up 8.2% compared to the previous week, although it was down 19.7% on 2019. Towns continued to outperform cities with an improvement of 10.5% in the former and only 5.5% in the latter. It means that cities continue to be the biggest casualties post-pandemic and they’re still down 20.8% compared to the same week in 2019.

Ipsos also said that high streets improved by 11.6% week on week, while retail parks were up 7.5% and shopping centres up 11.6%.

The figures from Springboard were similar with football down 15.7% compared to 2019 but rising 7.8% compared to the previous week, helped by good weather.

Again, all three destinations improved week on week with a 9.8% rise in high streets, 5.8% in retail parks and 5.5% in shopping centres.

It's perhaps no surprise that the sunny weather meant the biggest uplift was in coastal towns, which rose 16.6%. Meanwhile, Central London was up 8%, which was just short of the 8.1% achieved by other regional cities.

It's unclear when footfall as a whole might actually get back to the same level it was at before the pandemic (or even beat it), but the absence of international tourists is clearly still having an effect. They've started to return to the UK but still aren't coming in numbers as large as we saw in 2019.

And of course, there's been a huge behavioural change in the past couple of years with many consumers who previously hadn't shopped online now doing so regularly.

That's an ongoing challenge for physical retail and suggests that getting back to what we might see as ‘normal’ footfall figures might take longer than the retail sector would hope.

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