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Central London sees footfall jump as festive shopping brought forward ahead of rail strikes

Tom Bottomley
12 December 2022

While footfall in UK high streets suffered the most last week, 4-10 December 2022, compared to the week before, with a drop of -0.9%, Central London footfall saw a spike of +3.8% as visitors brought forward Christmas shopping trips before more rail strikes hit this week.

Overall, footfall across UK retail destinations rose marginally last week by +0.3% from the week before, with a varied performance across the three key destination types. Footfall in shopping centres rose 2.2%, and retail parks saw 0.9% lift, according to the latest data from retail experts Springboard.

Central London was supported by significant increases in footfall on Tuesday 6 and Wednesday December (+12.2% and +6.8% in Central London versus +6% and +1.8% across UK high streets).

By Saturday 10 December, however, even Central London was impacted, with a drop in footfall of -7% from the week before which was only very slightly better than the -7.3% drop across all UK high streets on the same day.

City centres outside of the capital did not perform nearly as strongly as Central London, with a drop in footfall of -3.5% over the week.

Other Springboard footfall data revealed:

  • The footfall uplift from 2021 increased to +10.3% last week from +8.8% in the previous week.
  • High street footfall was +16.2% higher than 2021 versus +13.9% in the week before.
  • The gap from 2019 footfall level narrowed last week to -9.6% across all UK retail destinations from -11% in the week before.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard, said: “As forecast, footfall across UK retail destinations went into a lull last week following the boost delivered in the preceding two weeks by Black Friday and Cyber Monday. There was only a very marginal rise in footfall from the week before, with a clear reduction in activity from Wednesday onwards when the cold weather hit.

“Somewhat inevitably, high streets were particularly hard hit as shoppers are exposed to the elements, while shopping centres performed best of the three destination types, reflecting the advantage of their temperature controlled internal environments.

“Whilst footfall in UK high streets dropped marginally from the week before, London performed well with a rise in activity, particularly in Central London, which may well have been driven by consumers bringing forward pre-Christmas shopping and entertainment trips in advance of the train strikes planned for this week.

“In normal circumstances, this would be the week when retail and hospitality trade ramps up, with many employees typically having their Christmas parties and shoppers hitting stores to purchase gifts, culminating in “Super Saturday”, the final Saturday prior to Christmas Eve.

“With train strikes planned for four days this week, there will be a clear impact on the trading success of stores, hospitality venues and destinations in what is the last normal working and trading week before Christmas.”

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