January footfall drops 65.6% but recovers since first lockdown

Springboard Diane Wehrle
High streets and shopping centres witnessed the largest impact from the pandemic
// Footfall across UK retail declines due to third lockdown
// Footfall dropped 65.6% in January – the first month in full lockdown
// The UK vacancy rates rose to 11.7% in January

Retail footfall declined last month across all destinations as the UK continues to suffer from a third lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Footfall declined by 65.6 per cent in January – the first month in full lockdown – compared with a decline of 41.9 per cent in December.

High streets and shopping centres witnessed the largest impact, where footfall fell 72.6 per cent and 73.6 per cent respectively, according to Springboard.

READ MORE: Retail footfall drops to lowest level on record in 2020

Footfall in retail parks was marginally better, decreasing by 42.1 per cent for the month.

Springboard found that the decline in footfall was not as severe as April 2020, which was the first full month of the first lockdown – when footfall had declined by 80.1 per cent.

The UK vacancy rates rose to 11.7 per cent in January, as physical stores continued to feel the impact of the nationwide closures.

This figure was up from 11.3 per cent in October last year and far above the 9.8 per cent vacancy rate of January 2020.

“The degree of decline is more modest than in lockdown one in all three destination types,” Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle said.

“Footfall in high streets and shopping centres in January was around a tenth higher than in April 2020, a smaller differential than in retail parks but nonetheless significant, and possibly a reflection of the activity generated by health services such as dentists and opticians that are continuing to operate.

“The fact that footfall on retail parks was stronger in January 2021 than in April 2020 is interesting as there is generally a greater uplift in retail park footfall in the spring when many shoppers turn their attention to their gardens and homes.

“Stronger footfall in retail parks is synonymous with a degree of lockdown fatigue and pent-up demand to get out of the house and shop, despite food store operators expanding their delivery capability.

“Shoppers are also clearly visiting retail parks for leisure-based trips in the absence of any other opportunity to shop (particularly as drive-throughs and coffee shops continue to offer take-away and click and collect is operating).

“This is the first indication of the potential for a bounce-back in spending when non-essential retailers reopen once again.”

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