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Heatwave cools high street footfall, but boosts shopping centres and tourist towns

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Latest data from retail experts Springboard reveals that footfall across UK retail destinations rose marginally last week, up 0.8% from the week before – a far more muted result than the rise of +3.8% in the previous week.

Despite the hot weather – which may have proved too hot for shoppers – footfall declined across UK high streets by -0.5%. In contrast, in retail parks and shopping centres – the former being open air and easy to access and the latter benefiting from being climate controlled – footfall rose by +1.9% and +2.4% respectively.

The extremely hot weather definitely helped tourist towns, with footfall increasing from the week before by +0.3% in coastal towns and by +0.9% in historic towns; seemingly marginal increases in both, but nevertheless a huge improvement on decreases of -4.1% and -2.5% in the same week last year when the weather was ten degrees cooler and rainy throughout the UK.

The impact of the weather on London was as noticeable but in reverse; whilst footfall declined marginally last year in Central London from the week before by -0.8%, this year it fell by -4.5%, and in high streets across Greater London as a whole by footfall dropped by -5.2% versus -2.3% in the same week last year.

The increase in activity in retail parks last week means that footfall is now just 13.2% lower than last year in this destination type, compared with shopping centres and high streets where footfall in both remains over a third lower than in 2019, with annual drops of -37.1% and -39.2% respectively.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard comments: “The first week of the peak summer holiday period delivered spectacularly hot weather but largely lacklustre footfall performance. Customer activity across UK retail destinations rose marginally from the week before but the uplift was less than a third of the increase recorded in the previous week. It was clearly high streets – where footfall marginally decreased – that subdued the overall result, whilst in shopping centres and retail parks footfall rose from the week before.”  

Wehrle concludes: “Despite the poor performance across high streets nationally, footfall in coastal and historic town centres rose marginally, undoubtedly due to the school holiday period and hot weather, whilst in regional cities and in London in particular footfall declined.”

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