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Warm weather drives footfall up ahead of reopening of non-essential retail

Tom Bottomley
06 April 2021

Footfall across UK retail destinations increased by +8.5% in the week of 28 March – 3 April, 2021, compared to the week before, with warmer weather cited as a key factor.

High streets and retail parks saw footfall increase by +9% and +9.7% respectively, but the smaller rise of +6.3% in shopping centres showed shoppers gravitated to external environments, according to the latest data from retail experts Springboard.

Over the Easter bank holiday, as a whole footfall was -7.6% lower than over the same four days in the week before.

In Central London and other large cities footfall was three times as great as it had been over Easter 2020 (+200.5% in Central London and +209.3% in regional cities).

The warmer temperatures in the south of the UK meant that the rise in footfall in Greater London and the South East and South West averaged +10.8% versus an average of +6.7% elsewhere.

Having passed the anniversary of Lockdown 1, footfall last week was +68.1% higher than in the same week in 2020, but still -57.3% lower than in 2019.

Footfall last week rose from the previous week in coastal and historic towns, by +8.5% and +3.4% respectively, and also in Central London by +5.8%. In all of those three town types there was a particularly significant uplift on Sunday, driven by the opportunity to meet up with friends and family in warm and sunny weather. Footfall rose from the previous Sunday by +58.4% in coastal towns, by +34.9% in historic towns and by +54.1% in Central London.

The cold weather on Easter Monday impacted the overall result for the Easter weekend, with a drop in footfall on Monday from the week before of -20.2% across all retail destinations, although footfall rose in retail parks by +8.7% as shoppers replenished food after the weekend.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard, commented: “With exceptional weather across most of the UK it was not a surprise that last week footfall rose across all retail destinations from the week before, and with the warmest weather occurring in the south it was unsurprising that this part of the UK that benefited the most.

“Footfall rose across all three destination types, but external environments inevitably benefitted more than shopping centres where the rise in footfall was a third lower than in high streets and retail parks.

“Following the anniversary of the start of Lockdown 1 in the week before, footfall last week was 1.5 times as great as it was in the same week in 2020, but still two thirds lower than in 2019. The Easter weekend was a week earlier than in 2020, with Good Friday and Easter Saturday overlapping the end of the week.

“The Easter weekend as a whole (Friday to Monday) was disappointing with a drop in footfall from the same four days in the previous week, however, the bank holiday weekend was hampered by the cold weather on Monday. Despite this, footfall was more than double that over Easter in 2020, although still more than a half lower than over Easter in 2019.”

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