Sluggish footfall in first full week of mandatory face coverings

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Sluggish footfall in first full week of mandatory face coverings
The first week of the mandatory wearing of face coverings in retail stores in England did not deliver the hoped for uplift in footfall.
// Footfall across all UK retail destinations rose by 2.8% last week from the previous week
// In England, where face coverings are mandatory in shops, footfall rose by just 2.5% across all destinations, versus 4% in other UK nations
// Footfall across UK retail destinations remains more than a third lower than a year ago at -37.6%

The first full week of mandatory coverings in retail shops around England has led to sluggish overall footfall figures across the UK, new data suggests.

According to experts at Springboard, footfall across all retail destinations throughout the UK rose by 2.8 per cent last week from the previous week.

Springboard said that this was a “modest uplift” from the week before when face coverings were only mandatory on the Friday and Saturday, during which footfall had risen by 4.4 per cent across the country.


READ MORE: Slight dip in footfall as face coverings become mandatory


However in England, during the first full week of mandatory face coverings footfall rose by just 2.5 per cent across all destinations compared to more than four per cent in each of the other UK nations.

Meanwhile, the pandemic was still having an adverse affect on visitor numbers, with footfall across all UK retail destinations remaining more than a third lower than the same week year ago, with a 37.6 per cent year-on-year drop.

In high streets throughout the UK, footfall rose by 4.3 per cent from the week before, versus just 1.2 per cent in shopping centres and 1.4 per cent in retail parks.

The week started positively on Sunday for UK high streets with a rise of 6.1 per cent, but on Monday when the rain hit, high street footfall declined from the week before by 15.7 per cent, versus drops of just 3.3 per cent in shopping centres and 0.3 per cent in retail parks.

On subsequent days, Springboard said the tables turned in terms of weather and footfall performance in high streets.

Between Tuesday and Saturday footfall across UK high streets rose by an average of 7.9 per cent versus just 2.3 per cent in shopping centres and 1.8 per cent in retail parks.

Of the four UK nations, it was Wales that benefited from the most significant uplift between Tuesday and Saturday, with a week-on-week rise over those five days of 14.8 per cent compared to 7.1 per cent in England.

“The first week of the mandatory wearing of face coverings in retail stores in England did not deliver the hoped for uplift in footfall, with a rise over the week across the UK that was virtually half of that in the week before,” Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle said.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. What a surprise.
    Why are no business organisations standing up to this?
    The smaller businesses see their income and savings slipping into bankruptcy and then everyone will moan when the high street is a husk and everyone is shopping on Amazon.

  2. I am one of those customers who is making a point of not visiting shops while mask-wearing is mandatory. This is regrettable, and not because I object to wearing a mask in itself, but because I have very strong principles against the government mandating what we put on our bodies, while saying nothing about if this is a temporary measure. If the government had taken the line “masks are strongly recommended”, or “this will be lifted when infections are low enough”, I might have respected that; but making them mandatory with no explanation is simply not on as far as I am concerned, especially as the government had previously dismissed masks as not useful. The rule is also unenforceable, unworkable, causes a vast increase in litter, makes it harder to identify thieves, and is bringing on an ugly appearance of self-appointed mask police by the public, who are actively intimidating people who have medical reasons not to wear a mask, some of whom feel too intimidated to go shopping. If the government made masks compulsory with the intention “restoring confidence to the high street”, for some people it is having the opposite effect; the government and retailers must bear this in mind, if they care about the survival of the high street. People will only put up with government-imposed curbs on their behaviour for so long, and will eventually vote with their wallets. Although this restriction is still in early days, I hope that retail organisations are paying close attention to whether compulsory masks are affecting footfall, and are prepared to stand up to the government if necessary. I have been contacting retail organisations, explaining why I am not spending my money on the high street.

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