High Streets bolster footfall as other locations waver

UK footfall increased by 0.5 per cent last week, but this was wholly driven by a rise of 3.9 per cent on High Streets.

Retail park footfall declined by 3.4 per cent during the same period, while the number of UK shoppers visiting retail parks dropped by 2.4 per cent, according to new data from Springboard.

The increase in High Street footfall was polarised, with significant uplifts on Monday and Saturday, 19.1 per cent and 19 per cent respectively. This was a bounce back from drops in footfall on the same two days over the bank holiday weekend.

In contrast, the stronger performance of retail parks and shopping centres over the Bank Holiday weekend meant that they did not benefit last week.

Even over the four days between Tuesday and Friday - when footfall dipped below the level on the same four days in the previous week - it was High Streets that fared the best with only a marginal drop of 0.2 per cent compared to 1.4 per cent in retail parks and 3.3 per cent in shopping centres.

Footfall rose across all types of High Street, but the most modest rises of 0.5 per cent and 1.6 per cent were in coastal and historic towns - which are appealing to leisure visitors - and in regional cities outside of London (1.7 per cent).

With a rise in footfall of 5.7 per cent in market towns it was clear that shoppers stayed local, but a positive indicator was a rise in footfall in Central London of 4.2 per cent, suggesting that shoppers are starting to feel sufficiently confident to make trips to the capital.

Despite this, London has significant ground to make up as footfall in Central London remains 61.8 per cent below the 2019 level compared with 24.1 per cent in Outer London, 35.5 per cent in regional cities outside of London, 30.3 per cent in market towns and 38.6 per cent in High Streets across the UK.

Shopping centres have gained slightly more ground than high streets with footfall last week 29 per cent below the 2019 level, but the clear winner remains retail parks where footfall last week was -4.6 per cent below the same week two years ago.

“Shoppers braved the ongoing rain and ventured back into retail destinations last week with footfall rising from the week before,” said Diane Wehrle, insights director, Springboard. “However, it was High Streets rather than shopping centres or retail parks that drove the uplift, and the result was a largely a result of a bounce back from a drop in shopper activity that occurred over the bank holiday weekend the week before.”

Wehrle said that shoppers continue a greater desire to visit their local High Streets over large city centres across the UK.

“…although it seems that Central London is becoming more appealing with a rise in footfall last week that was the second highest of any type of High Street, only lower than in market towns,” she added. “With indoor hospitality opening today the return of shoppers to High Streets couldn't come at a better time, suggesting we will see a further uplift in footfall as the opportunity to eat and drink inside protected from the elements will give shoppers an incentive to visit High Streets more frequently and dwell longer.”

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