Sunny weather over the bank holiday weekend brought more people to the UK’s shops over the last week, new footfall figures suggest.
Overall, 6.7% more people visited UK shopping destinations last week, compared to the previous week, according to the latest figures from Springboard. Most of the rise came towards the end of the week, with footfall up by 0.8% between Sunday and Wednesday before rising by 15.2% between Thursday and Saturday. Over Thursday and Friday, footfall rose by an average 20.6%, before rising by 4.4% on Saturday. On Sunday, visit numbers were 25% up on the previous week - and by 47.4% on UK high streets.
Visitor numbers were well ahead of last year – when the first Covid-19 lockdown was in place. Last week, visits to all UK retail destinations were 167.3% up on last year - but 26.8% lower than in the same week in pre-pandemic 2019. Visitors to high streets were 10.8% up on the previous week, 182.2% up on last year, and 33% down on 2019, while visitors to UK retail parks were 1.6% up on the previous week, 84.6% up on last year, but 8.2% lower than in 2019. Visits to UK shopping centres were 3.3% up on the previous week, 215.1% up on the same time last year, and 31.8% behind 2019.
Springboard’s data suggests wide geographical variations, with visitors to Central London shopping areas 17% up on the previous week, 309.6% up on the previous year, and 52.1% down on 2019. Visits to regional cities excluding London were up by 92% on the previous week, 331.7% up on the same time in 2020 and 32.1% down on 2019. The difference was least marked in Outer London, where last week’s footfall was 8.1% up on the previous week, 108.1% up on 2020 and 22.6% down on 2019.
Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, says: “Despite rain continuing to persist at the beginning of last week, footfall in UK retail destinations rose from the week before, with the increase also being far greater than in the past five weeks. It was apparent that shoppers intended to make the most of the bank holiday weekend – and the good weather that was forecast - as footfall rose by substantially more on Thursday and Friday than earlier in the week.
“Footfall rose in all three destination types last week from the previous week, but it was high streets that dominated in terms of uplift. All types of high street benefited, with Central London and coastal towns leading the way. The increase in activity in Central London was nearly double that in large city centres elsewhere in the UK, whilst the increases in market towns and outer London high streets were slightly lower, suggesting that shoppers are starting to gravitate towards larger locations.”
The New West End Company reported that footfall was up 67% over the bank holiday weekend, compared to the previous weekend’s figures. Traffic in the district was also up 31% compared to the last bank holiday at the beginning of May.
Jace Tyrrell, chief executive at New West End Company, which represents 600 businesses on Oxford Street, Regent Street, Bond Street and in Mayfair, says: “The first bank holiday since the easing of restrictions for hospitality has proved to be a hit for the West End. As the weather improved, so too did numbers on the high street, as visitors flocked back to the district, with 67% more coming back than last week. Our businesses have been patient, raring to get back into action, and the last few days have reinforced our belief that the public is as ready as we are to return.
“The nation cannot fully recover until its high street does, which is why - alongside supporting our visitors with all possible safety measures - we are doing everything we can to support our businesses. In partnership with Westminster City Council and the Crown Estate, we have launched a pop-up programme to entice exciting new brands to the district, including start-ups and more local talent. Programmes like this will inject the district with new ideas and products, informing the future of the high street and giving shoppers the choice and variety they want and deserve."