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Christmas Eve footfall 40% lower than last year

Tom Bottomley
24 December 2020

Footfall across all UK destinations up to 12pm today was 40% lower than on Christmas Eve in 2019, with the tiered restrictions hammering non-essential retail.

Retail parks fared the best of the three destination types, with footfall 24.1% lower than the 2019 level and 10.9% higher than the week before, clearly boosted by the presence of food stores as Brits look to stock up for their Christmas feast, according to the latest research from retail experts Springboard.

On what is an iconic trading day in the annual retail calendar, Central London has been most severely impacted with footfall 78.8% lower than last year, while also being 54.7% lower than last week.

It is evident that shoppers have continued to stay local as footfall in market towns across the UK rose by 11.2% from last week, and in the smallest shopping centres (less than 100,000 sq ft) footfall rose by 24.9% compared with just +2% in the largest centres.

The impact of the tier restrictions across the UK are very clear to see. In Tier 4 locations - which account for 24.4% of all UK footfall - footfall declined by 26.9% from last week, while it rose in all of the three other tiers where non-essential stores are open. Footfall rose by 25.1% in Tier 1 and an average of 15.5% across Tiers 2 and 3.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard, commented: “Since the start of the pandemic, the retail industry has been heavily impacted and retailers have had to adapt more than ever before. The continuing impact of government restrictions will no doubt be even more evident on Boxing Day as shoppers are encouraged to stay home and avoid the post-Christmas sales.

“Regional cities are typically the busiest trading locations on Boxing Day as shoppers clamour for bargains, however, by then five of the 12 regional cities - which account for 45% of footfall across all regional cities - will either be in Tier 4 or full lockdown. Therefore, the in-store experience of Christmas sales will not be possible for many as we near the end of 2020.”

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