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UK footfall gap to pre-pandemic 2019 narrows in October despite cost of living crisis

Tom Bottomley
03 November 2022

Despite the growing cost of living crisis, the gap in footfall from pre-pandemic 2019 across UK retail destinations continued to narrow in October to -9.8%, from -12% in September and -13.2% in August.

Covering the four weeks from 2 October - 29 October 2022, it is the first time the gap from 2019 has been less than -10%, a positive sign in what is clearly a challenging economic environment for retailing.

However, retail experts Springboard warn that may well be a short-lived boost in confidence for retailers, as rising energy bills and continued political instability are likely to dampen consumer confidence during winter.

Footfall in October compared to October 2019, was -10.5% in high streets, -14.7% in shopping centres and -3.3% in retail parks.

Other key findings from Springboard’s latest monthly UK footfall data include:

  • The uplift in footfall from 2021 (when all Covid restrictions had been lifted but when consumers were still exhibiting caution in their behaviour) diminished for the third consecutive month in October 2022 to just +5.2%, a third of the uplift of +15.6% in July
  • Footfall in high streets in October was +7.8% higher than in 2021 (+9.5% in September)
  • School half term holidays in October boosted retail performance with footfall rising by +8% during half term week, however, this was lower than the rise of +11.1% in the same week in 2021

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard, said: “The last week of October is pitched as the key week of the month as schools are on their half term break. Footfall always increases in this week and this year was no exception, with a rise of +8% from the week before, a significant uplift from the previous three weeks when the only increase was +0.8% in the second week.

“However, the increase in the half term week this year was less than the rise of +11.1% in the same week in 2021, an indicator of the impact of the cost of living crisis on consumers’ budgets and therefore on their propensity to spend.

“Indeed, we know from the recently released ONS spending data that consumers have cut back on spending, and Springboard’s town centre sales tracker recorded a rise in spending in bricks and mortar stores of just +1.8% in October, which is significantly below the current rate of inflation of 10.1% indicating that consumers are buying fewer products.

October was a nightmare month for British politics, and the uncertainty clearly had huge implications for consumer confidence which is now at an all-time low. Whilst it appears that some political stability has been regained, the Autumn statement on 17 November and the soundings about impending tax rises and spending cuts, combined with rumours about energy black outs over the winter, will undoubtedly suppress consumer confidence and therefore footfall further.”


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