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UK footfall continues to strengthen in June despite postponed ‘freedom day’

Tom Bottomley
08 July 2021

Covering the five weeks from 31 May – 4 July 2021, footfall across all UK retail destinations continued to strengthen in June 2021, moving to -22.2% compared to pre-pandemic 2019, and +85% versus 2020.

May 2021 was -27.5% compared with May 2019, so June’s footfall marked the strongest result since the start of the pandemic, according to retail experts Springboard.

The largest gains in footfall were made in high streets which continued to benefit from the reopening of indoor hospitality, and which improved by a third in June. Footfall declined from 2019 by -27.2% in high streets, -29.1% in shopping centres and -4.1% in retail parks.

The gains were largely made in the first week of the month, which included the early spring bank holiday when the weather was hot and coincided with the half term school break. In that week alone, footfall across all destinations improved to -14.5% below the 2019 level from -26.8% in the week before.

In the South West - which this year has been the “go to” destination for staycations - footfall was just -1.8% below the 2019 level in the first week of the month.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard, said: “The strong footfall seen in the first week of the month inevitably created misplaced optimism, as over the remainder of June footfall worsened incrementally each week. This was undoubtedly a reflection of the lack of impetus for consumers to shop following the government’s announcement in the delay of ‘freedom day’ until 19 July.

“This was heightened by the continued restrictions and limitations on overseas travel, which also reduced the need to shop for summer fashion in advance of overseas holidays. Moving into July, however, the opportunity for bricks and mortar retail to attract back consumers is significant.

“The removal of restrictions set for 19 July and the greater freedoms this offers - coinciding with the school summer holiday period - is likely to deliver a fresh incentive for consumers to visit bricks and mortar destinations.”

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