Retail footfall rises in wake of winter storms

UK shops saw a rebound in footfall last week, industry data showed on Monday, after a string of winter storms saw people say home in the prior seven days.
According to retail analyst Springboard, footfall rose by 11.1% across all UK retail destinations last week from the week before, when it dropped by 3.8%.

However, that uplift emanated from a bounce back in footfall on Friday and Saturday, when footfall averaged 43.3% higher than the week before, helped by the sunny weather on these days, compared with an average decline of 22.3% over these two days in the previous week as a result of Storms Dudley and Eunice.

Over the five days from Sunday to Thursday, footfall declined by an average of 0.2% from the week before, with drops on three of the five days.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, however, footfall rose, with the largest rise occurring in UK high streets of 13.4%, compared to 8.9% in shopping centres and 2.6% in retail parks.

Footfall rose in all town types last week, with a rise of 17% in central London and 20.3% in Springboard’s ‘Back to the Office’ benchmark, indicating more workers were returning to the office following the government’s removal of Covid-19 restrictions.

However, in city centres outside of the capital, the increase was lower at 10%, and only 0.4% over the four days from Monday to Thursday, versus 7.2% over the four days in central London, indicating that footfall in London last week was likely to have been boosted by half-term family trips.

Despite the volatility in footfall day-to-day last week, Springboard said the overall increase meant that the gap from the 2019 level narrowed to -17.2%, from -26.3% in the week before, although the uplift from 2021 only improved marginally to 123.9% from 122.4% in the previous week.

“Footfall across UK retail destinations bounced back in overall terms last week from the severe impact of the storms in the previous week,” said Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard.

“However, this was wholly due to a recovery in footfall on Friday and Saturday, which was undoubtedly helped by the dry sunny weather on these two days, but also due to exceptionally low comparables in the week before due to the impact on footfall because of Storms Dudley and Eunice.

“In contrast with Friday and Saturday – and despite the school half term – over the five days from Sunday to Thursday footfall was marginally lower last week than in the week before, with noticeable drops on Sunday and Monday.”

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