UK footfall drops marginally driven by 3.3% dip in high streets

Visitors to Oxford Street, 2021
Visitors to Oxford Street ©

For the first time in seven weeks, footfall across all UK retail destinations declined by 0.7%, “driven wholly by high streets” according to the latest data from retail experts Springboard, for the period 28 February – 6 March, 2021.

Footfall dropped 3.3% in high streets, but was up 0.9% in shopping centres and +3.2% in retail parks as parents visited large food stores in preparation for their children going back to school today, 8 March.

Footfall activity differed in the first half of the week from the second half, with increases across UK destinations on each day between Sunday and Tuesday averaging +9.6%, but then declines on each of the next four days averaging -6.2%.

In high streets, the declines from Wednesday onwards were more severe, averaging -9.8% and reaching -12.8% on Friday.

Despite footfall in high streets declining overall, in regional cities outside of London it rose by +2.3% while dropping by -10.9% in central London and -8.7% in outer London.

Apart from London, the most severe declines in high street footfall occurred in the East of England, the Midlands and the North of England, which all experienced poorer weather conditions than other parts of the UK.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard commented: “For the first time in seven weeks footfall in UK retail destinations declined from the week before. However, the drop was a marginal one, and was driven wholly by high streets, while activity in both retail parks and shopping centres continued to increase. Visits to retail parks increased by three times as much as in shopping centres, which may well have been a result of parents shopping for school clothing and items in large food stores in the run up to the return to the classroom.

“While the ongoing lockdown is the major influencer in shopping activity levels, weather still plays a part. Footfall in all three destinations types rose significantly over the first three days of the week, but declined from Wednesday onwards when the weather worsened in the second half of the week.”