July footfall bolstered by hospitality reopening

Footfall in retail destinations across the UK was down by 39.4% in July, according to the latest figures from Springboard.

Nonetheless, this marked an improvement of nearly a fifth from June, with the month ending with the best result recorded since February.

Footfall was reportedly boosted by the reopening of the hospitality sector, with footfall strengthened as much in July as in June, when retail reopened. According to Springboard, this “indicates the importance of this sector for bricks and mortar retail”.

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Footfall was still down by 47.2% in high streets, 42% in shopping centres and 19.9% in retail parks during the month.

While high streets and shopping centres saw the “most noticeable” improvement, both destinations have “far more ground to make up” than their larger, more open counterpart, retail parks. 

According to Springboard, this reflects how high streets and shopping centres must work harder at reassuring shoppers of their safety whilst visiting.

In addition, the group noted that the introduction of mandatory face coverings occurred at the end of July’s penultimate week, thus its contribution to footfall is not yet known. 

Looking ahead, Springboard said the increase in footfall over the coming weeks is “only likely to be gradual”, with a possible impending recession a “further constraining factor”.

Diane Wehrle, Springboard marketing and insights director, said: “Whilst July’s result is the most positive since the pandemic, it comes with a note of caution; all of the key changes that are recognised as obvious boosts to footfall have now been implemented, and yet bricks and mortar destinations are still only attracting six out of every ten shoppers that visited last year.

“With current discussions bubbling over about how we get the schools back in September and expert views that in order to do this sectors of the hospitality sector may need to close, the improvement in footfall over the coming weeks is not likely to be any more than gradual.”

She added: “A further key factor that will inevitably constrain the ongoing recovery of retail, whether it be online or bricks and mortar, is the impending recession which we know is just around the corner.”

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