// Shoppers return to high streets and shopping centres after a month of lockdown in England
// Consumer desire to ‘stay local’ attributed to 96.8% w-o-w rise in footfall in market towns
// Footfall in London’s West End rose 70.5% w-o-w- by 12pm yesterday
Footfall rose 85.2 per cent week-on-week in England by 12pm yesterday as shoppers across the country returned to high streets, shopping centres and retail parks.
The latest figures from Springboard saw footfall across all UK retail destinations was 64.5 per cent higher on Wednesday December 2, compared to last Wednesday.
“The extent of the uplift has virtually halved the annual decline in footfall recorded in November of -51.2 per cent across the UK,” the research firm noted.
High streets and shopping centres experienced the greatest increase in activity, with high streets in England up 80.4 per cent since last week, and shopping centre footfall in England rising 133.2 per cent.
“We were expecting footfall to rise, but previous evidence gleaned from the reopening of non-essential retail in Wales led us to believe that it would be in the order of 45 per cent from the week before; the fact that the increase is virtually double that forecast is indicative of “lockdown fatigue” and the desire of shoppers to visit stores and experience the Christmas shopping trip,” Springboard said.
Retail parks saw softer gains made, but this was attributed to the presence of “essential” food stores and garden centres at retail parks meaning many customers in England had been able to visit these retail locations throughout lockdown.
Despite this, UK footfall at retail parks rose 29.5 per cent week-on-week, coming in just 3.1 per cent beneath last year’s figures.
Springboard also noted that a desire for safety and for shopping local were emerging footfall trends in shopper behaviour: small towns and high streets saw larger increases in visitors than larger cities.
In keeping with the trend, footfall in market towns virtually doubled yesterday, up 96.8 per cent from last Wednesday, whilst in regional cities (excluding London) it rose by just a third to 32.5 per cent.
Springboard noted that despite the desire to stay local, shoppers had not been able to resist the lure of the West End of London, which was up 70.5 per cent yesterday compared to last week’s figures.
“These results deliver the first really positive news for retailers since Covid hit the UK, and finally provides retailers with some reason for optimism in the run up to Christmas,” Springboard said.
Whilst England has now exited its month-long lockdown, Northern Ireland and 11 council areas in Scotland, including Glasgow, still have a week and a half left of their own respective lockdowns.