Footfall continues decline following tiered restrictions

Footfall fell by 3.1% across all retail destinations last week from the week before, following tiered restrictions being introduced across the UK.

According to the latest figures from Springboard, footfall saw largely similar rates of decline in all three destination types, with footfall down by 2.8% in high streets, 3% in retail parks and 3.5% in shopping centres. 

The continued drop in footfall drove the annual result for all UK retail destinations down to a decline of 32.3% from a decline of 30.9% the week before. 

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In high streets and shopping centres, footfall is now 40% and 34.6% lower than last year respectively, while retail parks welcomed a “far more modest” decline of 13.2%. 

According to Springboard, larger cities “continue to be hit hardest” by increased restrictions, with footfall in regional cities down by 5.7%, against a 2.1% decline in market towns and 1.2% decline in coastal towns. 

Footfall in central London declined by 2.3%, which was less than half that in regional cities around the UK. This was reportedly due to the fact that London previously recorded “far greater” drops in footfall than elsewhere. 

Springboard added that it was “not surprising” that the 5% decline in footfall in the North and Yorkshire region was the highest of any area of the UK following heightened restrictions in the north of England. 

In addition, the 10pm closure of hospitality also meant that the decline in high street footfall post 6pm across was 4.5%, nearly double that over the daytime trading period of 9am to 6pm.

However, these results “varied significantly” between nations. High street footfall in Northern Ireland and Scotland post 6pm fell by 9.8% and 20.4% respectively, while it was down by an average of 2.3% across English regions.

Meanwhile, high street footfall post 6pm in Wales rose by 11.3%. The country was also the only nation where high street footfall also rose during the day time trading period, with footfall up by 3.8%. 

Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, said: “The additional Covid tiered restrictions had an immediate impact on footfall in retail destinations last week with an across the board week on week decline; the fourth consecutive drop and also greater than that in previous weeks. 

“The drop in footfall was equally severe across all three destination types, although on an annual basis retail parks continue to remain by far the most resilient. Notwithstanding this, the year on year decline in footfall in all three destination types accelerated once again, with the largest gap between this year and last year for nine weeks.” 

She added: “Somewhat inevitably, given the advice for people to work from home and the increased restrictions on travel, footfall regional cities declined by significantly more than in smaller towns around the UK. 

“The 10pm closure of hospitality is having a clear impact on high street activity during the evening, with far greater declines in footfall post 6pm than over the daytime trading period of 9am to 6pm. This is UK wide with the exception of Wales, where high street footfall across the day rose last week from the week before.”

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