Retail footfall impacted by differing COVID-19 restrictions across UK nations

Oxford Street
Oxford Street, October 2020

Footfall across all retail destinations in the UK declined by -1.2% last week, 18-24 October, compared to the week before.

With different coronavirus-related restrictions coming in to place in each of the UK’s nations, by far the most modest footfall decline was in England at -0.9% from the week before, while in Scotland it dropped -2.7%, in Wales -3.8% and by a much heavier -12.2% in Northern Ireland, according to the latest data from retail experts Springboard.

The annual decline in footfall across the whole of the UK reached -32% last week, with the largest drops in the devolved nations – with Wales at -40.3%, -40.1% in Northern Ireland, -38.2% in Scotland, while only -32.1% in England.

Overall last week across the whole of the UK, footfall declined by -3% in high streets, and -0.1% in shopping centres, but it rose by +1.3% in retail parks.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard, commented: “In different parts of the UK the situation was more nuanced, with far greater declines in footfall in the devolved nations than in England, and differences in performance from nation to nation reflecting the introduction of restrictions.

“The greatest decline in footfall occurred in Northern Ireland, which was impacted across the day, but particularly post 5pm as hospitality closed their doors on Saturday. In Wales, footfall plummeted on Saturday – the first day of the closure of non-essential retail stores, resulting in a year-on year-decline on that one day that was equivalent of the drop in footfall during the lockdown.

“The appeal of retail parks to shoppers with their ease of access by car, free parking, open air environments and large stores, alongside the presence of a food store in the majority, is once again being demonstrated, with increases in footfall from the week before in this destination type across all four UK nations.”

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