UK footfall rises thanks to shopping centres

Footfall rose across retail destinations
// Footfall across UK retail destinations rose 0.7% last week from the week before
// Shopping centre footfall rose 2.3% while retail park footfall rose 1.3%
// High street footfall dropped 0.4% during the period

New research has found that footfall has increased by 0.7 per cent in UK retail destinations last week from the week before.

This was derived wholly from rises in shopping centres that saw an increase of 2.3 per cent and retail parks where footfall increased by 1.3 per cent, whilst footfall in high streets declined marginally by 0.4 per cent.

Although footfall in Central London rose by 0.5 per cent, it was from an uplift in retail areas by 1.8 per cent which shows a focus on Christmas shopping, according to Springboard.

READ MORE: Footfall boosted by Christmas light switch-ons

However, the early impact of the Omicron variant is suggested by a two per cent decline in Springboard’s Central London Back to the Office Benchmark.

In addition, footfall in large cities outside the capital declined by 3.8 per cent from the week before, whilst it rose by one per cent in small market towns as more shoppers stayed local.

Footfall over the week was impacted by a decline on Friday of five per cent overall, and by 10.3 per cent in shopping centres which were hit by a strong rise on Black Friday in the previous week.

This halved the uplift from the week before, with footfall rising by 0.7 per cent over the seven day period, but over the six days excluding Friday by 1.6 per cent.

However, some of the decline was offset by a rise in footfall on Saturday – the first day of the Christmas shopping period for many – of 6.6 per cent across all retail destinations and 9.8 per cent in high streets.

The gap in footfall from the 2019 level stood at 17.4 per cent last week, but footfall was 43 per cent higher than in 2020.

“Footfall in UK retail destinations last week was inevitably more subdued last week than the previous week which had included Black Friday,” Springboard insights director, Diane Wehrle said.

“Footfall rose marginally, and it was wholly driven by uplifts in activity in retail parks and shopping centres whilst there was a modest decline in high streets.

“The strong comparison of Black Friday in the week before meant the drop in footfall on Friday was significant enough to halve the uplift in footfall over the seven day period.

“Last week also provided the first evidence of an early impact on footfall of the Omicron variant.

“Springboard’s Central London Back to the Office benchmark (comprising only those areas in close proximity to offices) declined last week from the week before, whilst footfall across Central London as a whole – which is clearly being supported by the Christmas trading period – increased, rising by even more in those areas with a predominance of retail stores.

“The picture is not as positive in large city centres outside of the capital where footfall dropped by nearly double the rate of decline in the Back to the Office Benchmark.

“This points to the fact that whilst Central London is being supported by its retail and leisure offer in the run up to Christmas, large city centres outside of the capital are not benefiting, substantiated by a rise in footfall in smaller market towns across the UK as shoppers stayed local rather than venturing further afield.

“Despite this, on Saturday – the first Saturday in December which for many shoppers is the kick off of the Christmas shopping period – was far stronger than on any other day last week, particularly in high streets and shopping centres where footfall rose noticeably from the week before.”

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