Experts predict ‘Plan B’ will lead to a significant drop in retail footfall

Shoppers on high street - retail footfall following Plan B restrictions
Springboard predicts that Plan B will significantly impact retail footfall.
// Covid Plan B is expected to have a significant impact on retail footfall
// Figures are predicted to be around 50% less than they were in 2019

Retail expert Springboard has predicted that last night’s government announcement regarding Covid Plan B, which included guidance to work from home, will have a significant impact on footfall in key UK retail destinations.

According to Springboard, Central London and city centres are currently seeing footfall at 20% below the 2019 figures, a significant improvement on the May figures (which were 58% below 2019 in London and 34% below in other large cities outside of the capital).

Once the Plan B restrictions have been put in place on Monday 13 December, Springboard predicts this gap opening up again, with a footfall dropping to 50% below the 2019 level in Central London and 30% below in cities outside of the capital.

The predictions also state that footfall in retail parks – currently 4% below the 2019 level – could strengthen further, reaching just 2% below the 2019 level, as a result of shoppers turning away from city centres.

Springboard also expects to see a sudden rise in online non-food spending, to around 29% of the market (currently 22%). Last December – when restrictions were also in place – online spending on non-food stood at 30%.

READ MORE: UK footfall rises thanks to shopping centres 

“From our knowledge of previous periods of Covid restrictions we know that enforced home working and increased nervousness around Covid means a proportion of this footfall will be diverted elsewhere,” commented Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard.

“[Footfall will divert] predominantly to smaller high streets that are more local to shoppers’ homes and are less congested, and to retail parks, many of which have a wide range of high street retail stores that are large and spacious, combined with open air parking that is free of charge,” she continued.

“This clearly represents yet another hammer blow to an industry that is still trying to recover from a huge loss of trade in 2020. While many retailers benefited from a huge uplift in their online sales last year, for the vast majority this was simply not enough to make up for the loss of store sales; after all, in normal trading conditions pre-Covid in 2019, 80% of retail sales were store based.

“Perhaps the saving grace for many will have been the awareness and concern of many shoppers around the lack of supply of products, which will have encouraged them to purchase their Christmas gifts earlier this year.”

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