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Hopes for high half-term footfall flattened by Storm Eunice

Tom Bottomley
22 February 2022

Footfall across all UK retail destinations dropped by -3.8% last week, 13-19 February, compared to the week before as Storm Eunice wreaked havoc at the end of the week, dampening any hopes of a school half-term boost to footfall.

The severe winds on Friday 18 February even ripped part of the roof off The O2 in London, exposing areas of the popular Icon Outlet.

Between Sunday 13 and Thursday 17 February, footfall rose by an average of 5.5% with a huge uplift of 18.1% on Monday 14 February – the first day of the half-term break. However, the arrival of Storm Eunice saw Friday footfall drop -32%, and Saturday footfall dip by -12.6%.

High street footfall dropped by an extreme -36.6% on Friday and -17.9% on Saturday as many people heeded the Met Office’s advice to stay in amid its first ever red weather warning in London.

The largest drops in footfall last week compared to the previous week occurred in Wales, at -9.7%, the south west at -7.8%, the south east at -5.7% and north and Yorkshire at -5%.

Greater London, Scotland and Northern Ireland recorded increases in footfall of less than 1%.

Trips out at the beginning of what was the half-term week led to noticeable increases in footfall in Central London, regional cities and historic towns across the UK between Monday and Thursday, averaging +16.2%, +10.8% and +10.7% respectively. That was in sharp contrast to a drop in footfall over those four days of -1.3% in market towns across the UK and a rise of just 2% in outer London.

The drop in footfall last week meant that the gap from 2019 widened to -26.3% last week from -21.2% in the week before, with the uplift from 2021 diminishing to +122.4% from +149%.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard, said: “Unsurprisingly, footfall across UK retail destinations last week was majorly affected by the severe storms, which negated the positive impact of the start of the February school half-term break.

“Storm Eunice landed on Friday and led to significant declines in footfall on both Friday and Saturday. Prior to that, Storm Dudley had hit UK shores on Wednesday, but in overall terms this had a more minor impact on footfall.

Inevitably high streets felt the greatest effects of the weather, with a slightly stronger result in shopping centres - the vast majority of which offer shelter from the elements - and in retail parks which are easy to access by car.

“With Storm Eunice hitting the north and south west of the UK hardest, it was in these areas that footfall declined the most. Despite the storms, there were noticeable uplifts in footfall from the week before between Monday and Thursday in Central London, other large city centres around the UK and historic towns - which were undoubtedly driven by half-term trips - resulting in a far more modest decline in footfall over the week as a whole in larger cities than in smaller high streets.”

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