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Retail footfall drops across the UK as schools re-open

Lauretta Roberts
14 September 2020

Footfall across all retail destinations throughout the UK declined by -6.3% in the week of 6-12 September, as the final wave of schools re-opened, in what was the first week of decline in footfall since lockdown was eased.

According to the latest figures from Springboard, in high streets and retail parks there were week on week declines of -5.4% and -5.2% respectively, while in shopping centres footfall dropped by -9%. Footfall in high streets is now 33.7% lower than last year, and 31.2% lower in shopping centres. 

Springboard said the drop was attributed to the return of schoolchildren and the drop-off in staycations. Footfall in coastal towns and historic towns, popular with holiday-makers, dropped by more than in high streets generally (by -9.8% in coastal towns and by -7.7% in historic towns). 

There was no suggestion, however, of a mass return to offices as there was also a proportionately greater decline in footfall in regional cities of -7.9%, although footfall in Central London dropped by just -3%, offering a glimmer of hope. 

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard commented: “The back to school boost to footfall ended sharply last week. Whilst this is a pattern of consumer activity that Springboard has come to expect - we have seen this drop occur in all but one year since we starting publishing our footfall indices in 2009 - the magnitude of the drop has been larger than in any previous year. This signifies the continued impact of many Brits continuing to work from home as offices across the UK remain closed.” 

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