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UK retail footfall continues to rise as pent-up demand slowly unleashed

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Footfall across all retail destinations throughout the UK rose by +4.1% last week from the week before, a significant acceleration in the rise in the previous week of +0.8% and +1.8% in the same week last year.

Latest data from retail experts Springboard reveals that much of this was driven by rises in footfall of +6.8% in Greater London and +7.1% in the South East, which were a reversal of the previous week when footfall declined in these two regions and a far stronger performance than the same week last year when footfall only rose by +1.6% in Greater London and +2.2% in the South East.

These two regions generate a far greater volume of footfall than elsewhere, which meant that the week ended with footfall 30.7% lower than in the same week last year, a noticeable improvement from an annual drop of -32.5% in the week before.

All three destination types benefited from a rise in footfall, with shopping centres being the clear winner with a week on week increase of +7.1% versus +3.2% in high streets and +2.7% in retail parks.  Despite this, with the benefit of large food stores, free parking and large stores retail parks still lead the way in recovery; footfall in retail parks is now only 10.6% lower than last year compared with shopping centres where footfall is 32.4% lower and high streets where it is 39.1% lower. 

High streets as a whole are adversely impacted by lack of footfall returning to Central London and other regional cities; these locations generate the greatest amount of footfall of any type of high street in the UK, and in Central London footfall remains 61.2% lower than last year and in regional cities it is 49.8% lower. 

In contrast, footfall in smaller more local high streets or those appealing to holiday makers has recovered to a far greater extent; in Outer London the drop in footfall from last year is now just -29.5%, in coastal towns it is -28.7%, in historic towns -34.1% and in market towns -28.3%.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard says: “It seems that the increased quarantine measures imposed last week on a number of overseas destinations are having a positive impact on UK footfall.  Footfall in UK retail destinations last week not only rose on a week on week basis, but the uplift was more than four times as large as the week before, and two and a half times as large as the same week last year. The outcome is a further incremental recovery in footfall compared with 2019, and the sixteenth consecutive week in which the annual decline has lessened which offers a glimmer of hope for retailers.”

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