UK footfall soars +155% on first day of retail reopening

Oxford Street
Oxford Street, April 2021

Footfall across all UK retail destinations jumped by +155% yesterday, Monday 12 April, compared to Monday last week, and by +225.2% in shopping centres, as the government’s lockdown restrictions were eased and non-essential retail reopened.

On what was a surprisingly cold April day, the rise in footfall in high streets was even +176.1%, according to the latest data from retail experts Springboard.

The rise in footfall in retail parks was more modest, although still significant at +35.9% from the previous Monday, but the level of activity in retail parks was higher than in high streets and shopping centres prior to yesterday due to the presence of food stores. Even with this more modest rise, footfall yesterday in retail parks was +7.8% higher than on the same Monday in 2019, before the pandemic.

Encouragingly, footfall across all retail destinations yesterday was just 15.9% lower than on the same Monday in pre-pandemic 2019.

Even in Central London, the destination that has been the hardest hit of anywhere in terms of the loss of footfall since COVID-19 struck, footfall rose by +202.4% from the week before, improving the annual result to -56% from 2019 compared with more than -80% during lockdown.

In regional cities outside London the result was even more positive, with footfall strengthening and ending up 27.1% below the 2019 level. However, while shoppers were venturing out to large cities, many shoppers still stayed local with a rise in footfall in market towns of +237.2% from the week before, resulting in a drop from 2019 of just -6.8%.

In retail destinations in the north and Yorkshire region, footfall yesterday was only marginally below the 2019 level at -0.8% year on year.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard, commented: “The first day of retail reopening was an amazingly positive result and one which finally offers retailers with some positive news.

“The strong uplift highlights that consumer demand is higher than even forecasted, and shows that bricks and mortar still holds a key position within the retail sector, which can finally see a visible road to recovery after a difficult year.”