UK footfall drops in first week of 2022 as work from home rules hit city centres

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
// Retail footfall drops as work from home guidance hits city centres across the UK
// The decline in footfall was driven by a drop of 10.9% in high streets & 4.4% in shopping centres

Footfall across all UK retail destinations fell 6% in the week to January 8 versus the previous week as working from home directives to stem the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus continued to dent footfall in large city centres, researcher Springboard said on Monday.

The decline in footfall was driven by a drop of 10.9% in high streets and 4.4% in shopping centres, while footfall rose by 2.9% in retail parks, according to the latest data for retail experts Springboard.

Footfall fell by 25.6% in Central London and by 2.8% in market towns, although in outer London it rose by 2%.


READ MORE: Omicron ‘wipes out’ retail recovery as December footfall drops


However, while the work from home guidance is still in place, it was clear that some employees did venture into their offices, as the Central London “Back to the Office” benchmark, which tracks those areas of Central London closest to offices, declined by 15.2% and by-17.1% in regional city centres outside of the capital.

Footfall across all UK retail destinations last week was 21.8% lower than the same week in 2019, but that substantial gap emanated from high streets and shopping centres, at 30.9% and 23.7% respectively. In retail parks footfall was 0.2% below the 2019 level.

Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle said: “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,”

“Indeed, this is a familiar result in the first week of the year, having occurred every year since 2011, and the magnitude of the drop in footfall last week was almost identical to that in the same week in 2019 and slightly lower than in the same week in 2020.

“However, the drop only occurred in high streets and shopping centres, while in retail parks footfall rose marginally from the week before which in part will have been driven by households replenishing groceries and household products. High streets bore the brunt of the drop in shopper activity, with the decline from the New Year week more than twice that in shopping centres, although to some degree shopping centre footfall may have been insulated by the great Christmas present return.”

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