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UK retail footfall slow to recover from pandemic, despite ongoing drop in online spending

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There has been a slow but steady post-pandemic recovery for UK retail destinations in 2022, yet footfall is still way below its pre-pandemic levels. Online shopping has also fallen.

Springboard’s annual retail report for 2022 shows retail in the UK did see signs of recovery in 2022, with consumers shopping local and online spending dropping from pandemic levels. Between May to December footfall was up +10.8% across all retail destinations compared to 2021, despite new challenges created by the cost-of-living crisis.  However, UK footfall is still down -14.2% in 2022 compared to 2019.

According to the data, consumer localism slowed down the retail recovery in Central London, where footfall was -17.8% down on 2019 figures between May to December.

One of the main factors for the sluggish footfall recovery lies in remote working, says 

Insights Director at Springboard, Diane Wehrle. Springboard’s Retail Consumer Survey – carried out each quarter – identified in 2022 an average of 55% of consumers working at home for at least some days each week, with very little change in the extent of home working across the year. This hybrid working hit high streets in the week, with weekday footfall -18.2% below 2019 levels in 2022. 

Resilient retail parks did however benefit from rail strikes and pandemic spending patterns as 2022 footfall at UK retail parks was just -3.7% below 2019 levels.

Online spending has also diminished, with the online share of clothes and footwear spending falling from pandemic peak of 65% to just 24.9% in December 2022. Despite this, Springboard predicts footfall will not return to pre-pandemic footfall levels and in 2023 the gap from 2019 will settle at between -5% and -10%.

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