Chilly weather and rain sees UK high street footfall drop

Footfall across all UK retail destinations declined by -2% last week, 25 April – 1 May, 2021, compared to the week before, “wholly driven” by a decline of -6.1% in high streets due to cold temperatures and spring showers, while footfall rose by +2.8% in shopping centres and +1.6% in retail parks.

Footfall strengthened over the bank holiday weekend, increasing from the previous week across all UK destinations by +3.2% on Saturday and by +7.2% on Sunday, according to the latest data from retail experts Springboard.

Footfall also rose significantly on both Saturday (+20.9%) and Sunday (+31.1%) in regional cities outside London, but in tourist destinations such coastal and historic towns footfall only rose on Sunday (+10% in coastal towns and +12% in historic towns) while declining on Saturday.

By the end of the week on Saturday 1 May, the gap in footfall from 2019 in all UK retail destinations had widened to -25.9% from -19.9% in the week before. However, in less than a month since reopening in England on 12 April it is at virtually the same level as it was after three months following the end of Lockdown 1 in 2020, and in retail parks footfall is just -2.9% lower than the 2019 level.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard commented: “Footfall across UK retail destinations dipped a little last week from the week before, driven by fewer shoppers visiting high streets while in retail parks and shopping centres customer activity rose.

“In part, this is likely to have been due to the rain and cooler temperatures in the second half of the week in a number of areas across the UK which will have deterred shoppers from external locations. Despite this, activity rose in regional cities outside of London, whilst in tourist destinations and smaller high streets it declined, suggesting that the appeal of major stores that are present in large city centres was enough to offset the less favourable weather.

Shoppers in Belfast, where stores reopened last week

“The uplift in footfall in both Scotland and Northern Ireland following the opening of non-essential retail last week was significant, with these being the only areas of the UK where footfall rose from the week before. Over the bank holiday weekend, however, footfall across the UK strengthened once more, increasing from the previous week on both Saturday and Sunday although Monday was adversely impacted by the wind and rain.”


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