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Bank holiday weekend and staycations boost UK footfall

Tom Bottomley
31 August 2021

Footfall across all UK retail destinations rose by an average of +3.9% from Sunday 22 August to Friday 27 August compared to the week before, but that rose to +8.2% over the August bank holiday weekend as shoppers made the most of the long weekend ahead of "back to school" this week.

Staycations again played a significant part, as footfall in coastal towns rose by +19.8% over the bank holiday weekend, and by +20.1% in historic towns, according to the latest data from retail experts Springboard.

Despite the bank holiday weekend uplift in footfall, there was a sharp dip of -11.7% across all UK retail destinations on bank holiday Monday itself. A large proportion of that decline came from shopping centres where footfall dropped by -10.8%. But footfall rose by +4.5% in retail parks as shoppers headed to food stores to restock on household essentials.

From 22-28 August, compared to the week before, footfall rose by +6.9% in high streets, +4.8% in shopping centres, but just +0.8% in retail parks.

Footfall last week was +14.2% higher than in the same week in 2020, and +23.4% higher in high streets.

The strengthening of retail is also reflected in the comparison with pre-pandemic 2019, with the gap across all retail destinations last week from 2019 at -16.3%.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard, commented: “In the final week of the school summer holiday period, footfall across UK retail destinations continued to rise from the week before, although the increase was wholly driven by high streets and shopping centres, rather than retail parks. 

"Footfall rose on each day of the week, with larger rises occurring each day from Friday onwards. Over the bank holiday weekend, the increase in footfall in high streets from the previous week was three times as great as the average over the preceding six days from Sunday to Friday, and in shopping centres it was twice as great.

“The bank holiday weekend was particularly positive for towns that appeal to both day and overnight visitors such as coastal and historic towns, demonstrating the significance of staycations this year.

Bank holiday Monday was clearly a transfer day for many and an opportunity to restock on food and household essentials, as footfall declined from the previous Monday in both high streets and shopping centres while it rose in retail parks, undoubtedly driven by the presence of food stores.

“The positive news for bricks and mortar retail destinations is that footfall last week was noticeably higher than in the same week in 2020 when the August bank holiday also occurred, particularly in high streets, and the gap from 2019 was the smallest of any week since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.”

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