UK footfall drops as wet weather dampens demand

Retail footfall drops as work from home guidance hits city centres across the UK due to the Omicron variant.
“Somewhat inevitably, given that last week was the first return to work for many after the Christmas and New Year period, footfall declined from the week before." - Diane Wehrle
// Footfall across UK retail destinations declined by 1.7% last week from the week before
// In the same week last year, when the Eat Out to Help Scheme was in its final weeks, footfall rose by 4.1% across all destinations

Footfall at UK retail destinations fell by 1.7 per cent last week compared to the previous week, with a 2.2 per cent reduction in high streets and smaller drops of 1.3 per cent in shopping centres and one per cent in retail parks.

Springboard reported that on contrast in the same week last year, when the Eat Out to Help Scheme was in its final weeks, footfall rose by 4.1 per cent across all destinations.

Footfall declined in all but one area in the UK, with week on week drops ranging from 0.6 per cent in the South East to 3.3 per cent in the North & Yorkshire.

READ MORE: School summer holiday period sees UK footfall rise

The only increase occurred in Greater London where footfall rose marginally by 0.2 per cent.

Springboard stated that the impact of the rainy weather on visits was clear, with declines in footfall in coastal and historic towns of 2.9 per cent and 3.3 per cent respectively.

Even local high streets and city centres were losing popularity, with market towns declining 3.9 per cent and regional cities  outside of London dropping 4.6 per cent.

Footfall in Central London, on the other hand, increased by 5 per cent over the previous week, marking the longest run of continuous gains since the same period in 2020.

The impact of the drop in activity last week meant that that the gap from the 2019 footfall level widened once again to 20.6 per cent, with the greatest impact being in high streets where the gap from 2019 rise to 26.3 per cent from 21.7 per cent last week.

The glimmer of good news is that footfall overall is 15.1 per cent higher than in the same week last year, and 20.8 per cent in high streets.

In contrast the gains made from last year in shopping centres and retail parks are more modest, 10.4 per cent and 7.7 per cent respectively.

Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle said: “The penultimate week of the school summer holiday period was something of a damp squib. Rain most days across all areas of the UK accompanied by cool temperatures led to footfall across UK retail destinations dropping from the week before, eradicating all of the uplift gained in the previous week.

“As is usually the case when it rains, high streets fared worse than both the covered
environments of shopping centres, and retail parks which are easy to access by car and have parking in close proximity to stores.

“The change in footfall from the week before is in sharp contrast to the same week last year, when footfall was boosted by the Eat Out to Help Out scheme; the scheme ended in two weeks hence so shoppers were keen to make the most of the opportunity it provided, and footfall was also undoubtedly supported by the weather which was hot and sunny.

“The relatively poor performance last week was widespread with declines in footfall from the week before occurring in all but one UK geography, and in all types of high street including coastal and historic towns that appeal to staycationers, as shoppers clearly cut back on making trips. Only Central London recorded an uplift, which represented the seventh consecutive week in which footfall rose from the week before.”

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