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Easter weekend retail footfall drops by 83%

Tom Bottomley
15 April 2020

Springboard has revealed that retail footfall across bricks and mortar destinations was 83.1% lower that Easter weekend last year, and 14.3% lower than over the same four days in the previous week.

Despite the warm weather providing a clear temptation for leaving home, the latest figures show that the UK adhered to the government-enforced lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the impact on retail being both immediate and devastating.

The results follow closely on from retail intelligence expert’s figures for the month of March, which ended just a week prior to Easter. March 2020 will forever be remembered as the month that the UK went into lockdown, with the closure of all stores aside from those selling the most essential of items. The resulting impact on footfall in retail destinations inevitably was an unprecedented decline of -41.3% over the month from March 2019. 

In the first two weeks of March, before the lockdown was implemented, footfall declined annually by an average of just -2.9%, while in the final weeks the year-on-year drop averaged -61.5%, reaching -81.4% in the last week.

The panic buying that ensued when people realised that lockdown was an increasingly likely prospect, meant that the drop in footfall experienced in the third week of March in high streets and shopping centres didn't occur until the fourth week in retail parks, and even then the drop was around a third lower due to the need to shop for essentials. 

In the last week of March, the drop in footfall in retail parks was 15% less than in high streets and shopping centres. Inevitably, retail parks will continue to fare better during the lockdown than shopping centres or high streets, with the need to shop safely being paramount.

A premium is being placed by shoppers on suitable "social distancing", so large stores situated in more spacious environments – most frequently found in retail parks – are desired. Even at this early stage, thoughts are turning to how UK bricks and mortar retail will fare post lockdown.

Diane Wehrle, Insights director at Springboard, commented: “It is likely that even when we are in recovery, the psychological impact of the pandemic will linger with social distancing continuing to be the new normal for some time to come.  If this were to be the case, retail parks and the space they offer will be a favoured destination for many.

“In the meantime, as lockdown is likely to continue for some weeks yet, Britons will remember the role retail staff across grocery, pharmacy and every day essentials stores played in March 2020 and beyond in keeping it possible for families and households to continue to shop during such troubling times.”

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