UK weekly footfall rises as workers return to the office

Early signs of the confidence shown by workers returning to their offices meant there was a boost for UK high street footfall in the latest week.
"It seems that whilst the government's Plan B guidance to work from home if possible is still in place, there are the first signs that employees are starting to drift back to the office." - Diane Wehrle.
// UK weekly footfall rises as more office workers lift high streets
// Footfall across UK retail destinations rose 1.5% week-on-week in the seven days to January 15

Shopper numbers across Britain rose 1.5% in the week to January 15 versus the previous week, driven by a return to high streets, research from Springboard has revealed.

By comparison, footfall in retail parks declined 4.9% and shopping centres recorded a 4% dip.

This is supported by the increase in footfall across towns from the previous week, which ranged from 3.6% in historic towns to 12% in Springboard’s Central London Back to the Office benchmark.


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The researcher said overall footfall was 21.3% lower than the same week in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic impacted traffic.

It was from Thursday to Saturday that footfall increased every day from the previous week, averaging 13.4% over the three days and peaking on Saturday with an uplift of 17.3% from the Saturday before.

That Saturday performance is unlikely to have been directly linked to the office return but would have been a general vote of confidence in physical shopping.

Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle said: “The second week of the year delivered mixed results; an overall increase in footfall across all UK retail destinations from the week before, but a rise that was driven wholly by high streets, whilst in both retail parks and shopping centres activity declined.

“It seems that whilst the government’s Plan B guidance to work from home if possible is still in place, there are the first signs that employees are starting to drift back to the office; for the first time since mid-November footfall rose in high streets from the week before across all periods of the day, with a double digit increase in the first part of the day, when employees travel in to offices, for the second consecutive week.

“In addition, footfall rose in all types of town, including Central London and regional cities outside of the capital, and the increase in Springboard’s Central London Back to the Office benchmark (comprising those locations in close proximity to offices) exceeded the increase in footfall across Central London as a whole

“Ultimately, the week was also one of two halves, with declines in footfall from Sunday to Wednesday (reaching double digits on Monday and Tuesday), but then followed by three consecutive days with significant uplifts in footfall. This pattern was replicated across all destination types, however, in shopping centres and retail parks the magnitude of the uplifts in footfall from Thursday to Saturday were not enough to offset the drops over the first four days. Unusually, in retail parks footfall declined on Saturday, whilst increasing to a significant degree in both high streets and shopping centres.”

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