UK retail footfall sees north-south divide ahead of further government announcements

Oxford Street
Oxford Street, October 2020

The latest data from Springboard has revealed that footfall across all retail destinations throughout the UK declined by -0.3% last week (4 – 10 October) compared to the week before, with tighter local restrictions impacting the north more than the south of England.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to reveal plans for “traffic light” tiered restrictions across the UK in a government announcement later today, with the north likely to face the brunt of the measures in an aim to stem the significant hike in infection rates of coronavirus.

Footfall across all retail destinations rose marginally by +1% week-on-week in high streets and +0.4% in shopping centres, while footfall declined -1.6% in retail parks.

The overall impact of stronger footfall last week compared to the previous week saw a slight strengthening of the year-on-year footfall result, shifting marginally upward to -30.9% across all retail destinations.

The change in footfall post 11pm varied significantly across the UK, with rises in footfall in the south from the week before ranging from +1.9% in Greater London to +6.9% in the east, while footfall in Yorkshire and the north declined -5.5% post 11pm, by 11.7% in the east Midlands and -20.3% in the west Midlands.

Diane Wehrle, Insights director at Springboard, commented: “Consumers appear to have adapted their behaviour to accommodate the 10pm closure of hospitality. Last week – the second full week since the introduction of the curfew – the overall UK result was marginal.

“However, our data indicates that there appears to be a north-south divide in terms of night-time footfall bounce back, with southern areas of the UK recording rises in footfall post 11pm, while there are noticeable declines in the Midlands and the north where a number of towns have more severe restrictions in place.

“The impending announcement from Boris Johnson later today of tiered restrictions across the UK, with more severe restrictions likely in the north, is likely to drive down footfall further in those areas facing the tightest rules around movement.”