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Continued consumer pent-up demand gives optimism for a bounce back from 12 April

Tom Bottomley
08 April 2021

UK footfall recovered strongly to an annual decline of -28.1% in March, from -61% in February 2021, though that was distorted by the anniversary of Lockdown 1 falling in the penultimate week of the month, according to retail experts Springboard.

However, pent-up demand from shoppers for bricks and mortar stores was ever more evident in the results for March 2021, with footfall strengthening over the month in all three destination types.

In March 2021, the annual decline in high streets moved from -65.9% in week one to -58.4% in the final week of the month. In shopping centres, footfall moved from -69% to -62.5%, and in retail parks it virtually halved from -29.8% in week one to a more encouraging -14.8% by the final week.

The signs support Springboard’s forecast for a significant uplift in footfall when non-essential retail reopens on 12 April, 2021, anticipated to be around +48% in the first week from the week before, followed by a further rise of +10% in the second week.

In comparison with March 2019, footfall in March 2021 was -55.2%, as footfall declined from 2019 by -63.7% in high streets, -66.6% in shopping centres and -25% in retail parks.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard, said: “Since the start of 2021, Springboard identified the degree of pent-up demand from shoppers for bricks and mortar stores, and this was ever more evident in the results for March 2021, and even drawing a comparison with March 2019 shows that footfall strengthened over the month in all three destination types.

“Footfall is likely to continue to rise over the following weeks but probably at a slightly slower rate, as shoppers look forward to dining out following the reopening of indoor hospitality on 17 May.

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