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Lockdown working as footfall dives but makes surprising jump at warm weekend

Tom Bottomley
07 April 2020

The government-enforced lockdown is working according to the latest data from Retail Intelligence experts, Springboard, as footfall across UK retail bricks and mortar destinations declined by -75% in the week beginning 22 March and by -81.4% last week.

However, despite the COVID-19 impact, footfall leapt by +9.5% on Saturday 4 April and by +21.3% on Sunday 5 April, as Brits enjoyed the warmest weekend of the year and defied government guidelines to stay at home, or just shop for essentials.

Despite repeated government warnings on the health and safety implications of visiting public spaces, the increase on Sunday was particularly noticeable in London at +51.4%.

Data from Springboard highlighted that in 2019, the three trading days over the Easter weekend accounted for 38.5% of all footfall generated over the nine key trading days in the year.

The volume of footfall generated on Easter Saturday was 51% higher than on August Bank Holiday and 61% higher than on Boxing Day. The only key trading day with higher footfall was Black Friday.

With the closure of all but essential stores, Easter weekend, the second most important trading period outside of Christmas, will be unrecognisable.

Diane Wehrle, Insights director at Springboard, said: “It is impossible to draw any real comparison between Easter this year and Easter in preceding years - we have never been beset with such swathing restrictions that have impacted the entire economy and restricted spending so comprehensively.”

In 2018, when Easter occurred in March and was beset with poor weather from the "Beast from the East", footfall declined by -3.3% over the three days and by -2.1% over the year as a whole, the worse annual result since 2012.

With 2020 set to see footfall decline to its lowest annual level since records began in 2009, this likely outcome was voiced by a range of businesses to Springboard as 90% believe that it will be at least six months before their business returns to pre-coronavirus levels, with 40% believing that it will take more than a year.

At the same time, online continues to trade, although there have been huge variations in purchasing behaviour between categories over recent weeks resulting in the value of online spending remaining largely level with the same period in 2019.

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