Footfall up 3.3% in week of Freedom Day; but pingdemic hampers confidence

UK retail increased by 2.7% last week from the previous seven-day period after city centres were boosted by people making a return to the office.
"High street footfall was undoubtedly supported by a shift back to the office," : Sprinboard.
// Footfall across UK retail destinations rose by 3.3% last week from the week before, Springboard says
// Footfall rose by a staggering 16.5% on July 19, aka Freedom Day
// From Tuesday onwards the uplift from the week before averaged 1.7% as pingdemic hampered shopper confidence

UK retail enjoyed a significant boost in footfall on Freedom Day last week, but the remainder of the week was hampered by the “pingdemic” impacting shopper confidence.

According to new data from Springboard, footfall across the UK rose 3.3 per cent last week compared to the previous seven days.

There was a “staggering” 16.5 per cent uplift on July 19, the so-called “Freedom Day” when almost all Covid-19 restrictions were lifted in England – but from Tuesday onwards the footfall rise averaged at just 1.7 per cent.


Springboard said the effect of the heatwave, the end of the school summer term on Tuesday and the nervousness among shoppers created by the “pingdemic” was evident in its results.

Footfall rose in all three retail destination types, with the 4.1 per cent increase in shopping centres versus 3.3 per cent in high streets suggesting that shoppers sought respite from the hot weather in covered environments.

Footfall in coastal towns – where shoppers naturally gravitate when the weather is hot and sunny – was much stronger than in high streets generally with a rise of 11 per cent from the week before.

The exodus to the coast is demonstrated further by a decline footfall in Greater London of 0.7 per cent, contrasting with rises of 5.4 per cent in the South West and 6.5 per cent in the East, both of which have long expanses of coastline.

The overall results for the week left the gap in footfall from pre-pandemic 2019 levels largely unchanged at -23.3 per cent across UK retail destinations versus -24.9 per cent in the previous week.

“Following an above average start to the week as a result of ‘Freedom Day’ on Monday 19th July, the growth in footfall in UK retail destinations slowed considerably from Tuesday onwards,” Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle said.

“This is likely to be driven by a combination of the extreme heat, the start of the school summer break, and an increased nervousness amongst shoppers in visiting potentially crowded areas created by the growing ‘pingdemic’ which could force them to self-isolate.

“This is demonstrated by a proportionately greater rise in footfall in coastal towns, and also in the evening post 8pm, when it was cooler but which is the period of the day that accounts for the smallest proportion of footfall and when the vast majority of stores are closed with only hospitality outlets trading.”

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