January footfall declines but strengthens later in the month

The number of people shopping at Britain’s High Streets and shopping centres declined marginally to 20.8 per cent below the same period of 2019, according to research from Springboard.

This compared to an 18.6 per cent decline reported in December 2021.

Footfall dropped by 26.1 per cent in High Streets in comparison to pre-pandemic levels, while shopping centres experienced a 25.5 per cent decline compared to the same period and retail parks by 4.3 per cent.

However, the figures did reveal that the removal of Plan B restrictions lead to footfall strengthening noticeably in the second half of the month to 19.2 per cent below 2019 versus a 21.5 per cent decline in the first two weeks.

“For High Streets the results in January are positive on two fronts; firstly, activity started to increase in overall terms as employees returned to their offices for at least part of the week, and customers began to return to physical stores during the day and to dine out again in the evening,” said Diane Wehrle, marketing & insights Director, Springboard. “The second positive aspect for High Streets is that the start of the recovery in footfall to the high street took place in both smaller high streets and in larger city centres as a result of hybrid home/ office working, and the growth of coworking spaces that are starting to emerge in smaller high streets, particularly in Outer London.”

Wehrle added: “Footfall in Central London, regional cities and market towns around the UK all strengthened by around a quarter between the second and the fourth week of the month, and in Outer London it strengthened by nearly a third. Whilst shopping centres and retail parks did not see a noticeable uplift in footfall in January, the impetus created by the start of the great return to the high street will inevitably generate a ripple effect across all physical destinations in the forthcoming weeks, which even at this early stage offers a reason for optimism amongst retailers and retail destinations.”

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