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Footfall across UK retail destinations declines -3.5% amid wet weather and 10pm curfew

Tom Bottomley
05 October 2020

The latest data from retail experts Springboard has revealed footfall across all UK retail destinations declined by -3.5% last week – compared to the week before – largely driven by a footfall drop of -7.1% in high streets as the wet weather and 10pm curfew took its toll.

Footfall in shopping centres remained flat on the week before, while in retail parks it rose marginally by +0.8%.

All of the decline occurred in the second half of the week, no doubt in part a consequence of the torrential rain that hit from Wednesday, 30 September, onwards.

Footfall rose from the week before by an average of +1.1% between Sunday 27 and Tuesday 29 September, but fell each day between Wednesday 30 September and Saturday 3 October, averaging -7.1%.

Footfall declined across all types of high street, but the greatest declines were in coastal towns where footfall inevitably dropped by -11.6%, and in regional cities which saw a -8.2% decline from the week before.

In contrast, in market towns the drop in footfall was half this at -4.1% and -6.5% in outer London, demonstrating that shoppers were staying local.

The impact of the 10pm curfew on activity in retail destinations was also apparent. While footfall across all retail destinations declined by just -2.9% between 7am and 7pm in comparison to the week before, between 7pm and 11pm the decline was -8.4% and between 11pm and 7am an even greater -14.8%.

Primark queue, Autumn 2020

On a yearly basis, footfall across all retail destinations is now -31.4% lower than in 2019, although retail parks continue to be the location of choice for shoppers, where footfall is just -11.8% lower than last year. In high streets, the decline from last week exacerbated the gap between last year and this year, with the annual decline moving to -39.4%.

Footfall in shopping centres, despite staying flat from the week before, also slipped on an annual basis and is now -33.7% lower than last year.

Diane Wehrle, Insights director at Springboard, commented: “For the second consecutive week, and only the third week since the beginning of May, footfall across retail destinations declined last week from the week before. Part of the cause of the decline, particularly in high streets, was the rainy weather during the second half of the week that led to a double digit drop in footfall on both Friday and Saturday.

“However, the 10pm curfew is clearly having an impact. While shopping centres and retail parks - with only minimal evening economy activity - are holding their own, high streets, where the majority of evening economy activity occurs, are feeling the effect, with a drop in footfall post 7pm that is twice as great as that during working hours, and four times as great post 11pm.

“Inevitably the gap in activity from last year widened further, particularly in high streets, where footfall is now more than a third lower than it was in 2019.”

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