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Plummeting UK retail footfall follows mini-boom pre-Lockdown 2 in “week of two halves”

Tom Bottomley
09 November 2020

Footfall across all UK retail destinations dropped -15.4% last week, 1-7 November, compared to the week before.

It was a “complete volte-face” from the week before when footfall had increased by +6.2%, according to the latest data from retail experts Springboard.

The result for the week as a whole disguised the mini-boom which inevitably occurred in the days leading up to the new lockdown, which commenced on Thursday 5 November.

Over the four days between 1-4 November, footfall rose from the week before by an average of +11.7%, and on Tuesday and Wednesday the uplift averaged +18.9% - peaking at +20.4% on Wednesday.

However, from Thursday onwards footfall crashed, which of course is the overriding objective of the lockdown, and footfall declined by an average of -46.7% from the week before on the final three days of the week from Thursday 5 November.

Retail parks showed the most resilience, once again fuelled by the presence of food stores, with a drop in footfall from the week before of -9.7%, versus -16.2% in high streets and -18.9% in shopping centres.

This translated into an annual decline in footfall in retail parks of -18.8% compared with declines from 2019 of more than double that in both high streets (-46%) and shopping centres (-42.2%).

Geographically, footfall varied by nation with a marginal rise of +0.9% from the week before in Scotland and a decline of -3.6% in Northern Ireland, but in Wales - even before its two-week lockdown had ended - footfall rose by +10.9% from the week before, although it still remained -70% lower than in 2019.

Springboard Insight Director, Diane Wehrle, said: “Last week was in the clearest sense a week of two halves. With the second lockdown being announced on Saturday evening before the start of the week on Sunday, but not coming into force until Thursday, it was inevitable that there would be a last-minute surge in activity, which is exactly what occurred.

“The resilience of retail parks has been consistent throughout this year and has remained true during this new lockdown, with footfall declining almost half that of high streets and shopping centres last week.

“As shops closed throughout the UK from Thursday, the bounce back effect of footfall on high streets and in shopping centres after 2 December (when non-essential stores are due to re-open in England) may illuminate whether the Christmas season can provide a much needed boost to the retail sector.”

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