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Visitor numbers to UK shopping areas down for the second week in a row amid rain and curfews

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Visitor numbers to UK shops fell for the second week in a row last week, according to the latest footfall figures, amid torrential rain and curfews. 

Springboard says footfall was down by 3.5% across all destinations in the week starting September 27, compared to the previous week. High streets (-7.1%) were hit the hardest, probably as a result of torrential downpours and the 10pm curfew for pubs and restaurants, while visitor numbers to shopping centres stayed flat and retail parks (+0.8%) saw a small rise. 

But compared to the same time last year, footfall was down by 31.4%, with high streets (-39.4%) down most sharply, followed by shopping centres (-33.7%) and retail parks (-11.8%). Footfall in Central London was down by 60.3% on last year, and by 8.4% on the previous year, while regional cities (-50% year-on-year, -8.2% week-on-week) were also hit. 

Customers, who were already less likely to visit shops than they did last year amid Covid-19 social distancing, now appear to be staying away from shops as bad weather hit last week, and as bars and restaurants are forced to close at 10pm in line with Government measures to deal with the pandemic. 

Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle, said: “For the second consecutive week, and only the third week since the beginning of May, footfall across retail destinations declined last week from the week before. Part of the cause of the decline, particularly in high streets, was the rainy weather during the second half of the week that led to a double digit drop in footfall on both Friday and Saturday. 

“However, the 10pm curfew is clearly having an impact; whilst shopping centres and retail parks with only minimal evening economy activity are holding their own, high streets – where the majority of evening economy activity occurs – are feeling the effect, with a drop in footfall post 7pm that is twice as great as that during working hours, and four times as great post 11pm.

“Inevitably the gap in activity from last year widened further, particularly in high streets, where footfall is now more than a third lower than it was in 2019.” 

The largest week-on-week declines in footfall, said Springboard, came in the second half of the week – along with the heavy rain. And it detected the effect of the 10pm curfew in the 14.8% decline in footfall across all retail destinations between 11pm and 7am; on high streets alone footfall fell by a quarter (-24.4%) after 11pm.

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