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London footfall rises but remains impacted by lack of office workers and tourists

Tom Bottomley
28 June 2021

Consumers gravitated towards larger city centres last week, 20-26 June, 2021, compared to the week before, with a rise in footfall of +9% in Central London, but the ongoing impact of limited numbers of office workers and tourists in the capital remains poignant.

There was a drop in footfall of just -0.9% week-on-week in regional cities outside of London, compared with drops of -2.5% and -6.8% in market towns and coastal towns respectively, according to retail experts Springboard.

Despite that, the gap in footfall from 2019 in market towns of -25.5%, and in coastal towns of -28.2%, remained around half of the gap of -53.2% in Central London compared to the same week in pre-pandemic 2019.

In regional cities outside of London, the gap compared to 2019 was around half of that in Central London at -27.9%, suggesting that, in the capital city, proportionately fewer workers are returning to their offices with the impact compounded by a lack of overseas tourists.

“Variable weather” meant overall footfall across all UK retail destinations remained virtually static last week, with a marginal drop of -0.2%. Footfall in retail parks dropped by -2%, while in high streets and shopping centres footfall rose by +0.2% and +0.6% respectively.

The week was split into two parts, with an average drop in footfall across all retail destinations of -3.2% between Sunday 20 and Tuesday 22 June, versus an average rise of +2.1% between Wednesday 23 and Saturday 26 June.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard, commented: “Variable weather meant that footfall across UK retail destinations as a whole last week remained virtually level with the week before, albeit there were slight variations between urban locations of high streets and shopping centres where footfall rose marginally, and retail parks where there was a slight decline in activity.

“On the plus side, it seems that the appeal of larger city centres over smaller high streets rebounded last week, following shifts the other way in the previous two weeks. The lack of uplift in footfall on a week-on-week basis means that the gap from 2019 widened for the third consecutive week, although footfall remained noticeably higher than in the same week in 2020 which was the second week of trading following the lifting of Lockdown 1.”

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