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Retail footfall rises 8.2% across Bank Holiday weekend as High Street shows signs of recovery

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Footfall in UK retail destinations rose by +4.9% last week from the week before, with rises of +6.9% in high streets and +4.8% in shopping centres versus just +0.8% in retail parks. Footfall across all retail destinations rose by an average of +3.9% from Sunday to Friday from the week before, however this rose to +8.2% over the August bank holiday weekend as shoppers made the most of the long weekend ahead of back to school this week.

However, despite the bank holiday weekend uplift in footfall, there was a sharp dip of -11.7% on bank holiday Monday, the latest numbers from Springboard show. A large proportion of this decline came from shopping centres where footfall declined by -10.8%, but rising by +4.5% in retail parks as shoppers headed to food stores to restock on household essentials.

Over the course of the week, the largest uplift occurred in high streets, where the increase from the week before averaged +5% from Sunday to Friday and then +14.8% on Saturday and Sunday. In shopping centres, the increase between Sunday to Friday was similar to that in high streets, however, over the bank holiday weekend they did not fare as well with a more modest increase that averaged

+5.3%. In coastal towns footfall rose by +19.8% over the bank holiday weekend, and by +20.1% in historic towns.

Footfall last week was +14.2% higher than in the same week in 2020, and +23.4% higher in high streets, demonstrating how much better bricks and mortar retail performed compared with August bank holiday last year. In contrast, the gains made by retail parks and shopping centres last week from 2020 were far more modest, with footfall +3.2% higher than the 2020 level in retail parks and +5.7% higher in shopping centres. The strengthening of retail is reflected in the comparison with 2019, with the gap across all retail destinations last week from 2019 at -16.3%.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard comments: “In the final week of the school summer holiday period, footfall across UK retail destinations continued to rise from the week before, although the increase was wholly driven by high streets and shopping centres, rather than retail parks.”

She continues: “Footfall rose on each day of the week, with larger rises occurring each day from Friday onwards. Over the bank holiday weekend, the increase in footfall in high streets from the previous week was three times as great as the average over the preceding six days from Sunday to Friday, and in shopping centres it was twice as great. In contrast, in retail parks footfall declined over the bank holiday weekend from the week before. The bank holiday weekend was particularly positive for towns that appeal to both day and overnight visitors such as coastal and historic towns, demonstrating the significance of staycations this year.”

Wehrle adds: “Bank Holiday Monday was clearly a transfer day for many and an opportunity to restock on food and household essentials, as footfall declined from the previous Monday in both high streets and shopping centres whilst it rose in retail parks, undoubtedly driven by the presence of food stores.”

She concludes: “The positive news for bricks and mortar retail destinations is that footfall last week was noticeably higher than in the same week in 2020 when the August bank holiday also occurred, particularly in high streets; and the gap from 2019 was the smallest of any week since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.”

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