Retail footfall expected to rise by 19.7% following Freedom Day

High street shopping

UK footfall will rise by +19.7% this week following ‘Freedom Day’ today, as COVID-19 restrictions, such as face coverings and social distancing, are no longer mandatory in England, according to forecasting data from Springboard.

Whilst the removal of restrictions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will not be as comprehensive as they will be in England, the fact that footfall in England accounts for around 85% of all footfall in the UK, will certainly drive an uplift in overall shopper activity.

Latest insight from Springboard predicts that footfall will peak over the course of the first weekend of freedom with rises of +32.2% on Friday 23 July and +39.5% on Saturday 24 July.

Over the course of the week, footfall across all UK retail destinations is anticipated to be only -20.1% below the same week in 2019.

The magnitude of the increase in footfall is expected to vary across the three key retail destination types. High streets will see an expected increase of +25%, where footfall will be supported by the increased customer numbers that will be allowed in restaurants, coffee shops and pubs.

In shopping centres, footfall is expected to rise by +18% over the week. The rise in footfall in retail parks is expected to be lowest at +10%, as customer numbers in these destinations have already bounced back to a greater extent that in the other two destination types.

The anticipated uplift following Phase 3 of the governments easing of restrictions is forecast to be significantly greater than the +1% rise that occurred when indoor hospitality reopened in May 2021 as phase 2.

However, as retail stores are already trading and indoor hospitality is operational, footfall across the UK will not see the same rise of +87.8% which occurred during phase 1 when non-essential retail reopened in April 2021.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard commented: “The long awaited ‘Freedom Day’ on Monday will see footfall bounce back across the UK, to a more significant magnitude than when indoor hospitality reopened in May, with rises seen across all three retail destinations. With summer holiday commencing and many opting for a Summer Staycation in the UK, footfall will continue to rise throughout July and into August as many look to enjoy the good weather.

Despite the removal of COVID restrictions, the recently increased infection rate is likely to make some shoppers more cautious about venturing out into what could be busy shopping environments. Additionally, many workers have not yet returned to their offices and are unlikely to do so full time, which particularly impacts larger towns and cities the volumes of footfall are greatest.”