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UK footfall dips following strong half term performance

Tom Bottomley
28 February 2023

Footfall across all UK retail destinations dropped by -5.3% last week, 19-25 February 2023, following a +7.6% school half term boost for retailers the week before.

The largest drop of -7.1% was in shopping centres where footfall had risen most in the week before last, versus -5.6% in high streets and -2.8% in retail parks, according to the latest data from retail analysts MRI Springboard.

The gap to pre-pandemic 2019 footfall levels widened to -14.4% last week compared to -10.9% in the previous week, as eight out of 10 UK geographies experienced a decline in footfall.

Other key findings include:

  • High street footfall was up 7.7% on the same week of 2022, but distance remains from 2019 with a -17.5% gap
  • Footfall at retail parks dropped below 2022 levels, with annual footfall dropping -1.3%
  • Returning workers to the office led to more modest weekly drops in footfall in Central London and regional cities last week compared to the week before, of -7.9% and -3.5% respectively

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at MRI Springboard, said: “Somewhat inevitably footfall fell back once again last week in response to the uplift that occurred in the week before last as a consequence of the school half term holiday, with particularly large drops between Monday and Wednesday which were the days during the half term week that had recorded the largest rises. Declines occurred across all three key destination types, but there was a slightly larger week-on-week drop in shopping centres than in high streets or retail parks.

“Footfall declined across all the range of town types, however, the drop in footfall in Central London and other city centres last week was more modest than the rise in the week before last, clearly cushioned by employees returning to their offices. In contrast, in coastal towns which are attractive for day visits and in smaller high streets the reverse was true.

“The decrease in footfall occurred in eight of the ten UK geographies, with only Wales and the West Midlands recording increases from the week before last, where the school half term occurred last week.”

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