UK footfall improves but city centres are still struggling
Footfall to UK retail destinations continued to improve in the week up to August 22, although it remained at a historically low level. Springboard’s regular tracking data showed an increase as growth accelerated in Greater London and the South East.
Footfall across all retail destinations throughout the UK rose by 4.1% last week from the week before, a significant acceleration compared to the previous week’s +0.8%, and the +1.8% in the same week last year.
The overall UK result was driven by rises in footfall of 6.8% in Greater London and 7.1% in the South East.
These two regions generate a far greater volume of footfall than elsewhere, which meant that the week ended down ’only’ 30.7% year-on-year, better than the -32.5% the week before.
All three destination types benefited from a rise, with shopping centres up a healthy (in the circumstances) 7.1%. But the figure was only 3.2% in high streets and a lower 2.7% in retail parks, the latter having been more buoyant generally than the other two destination types.
In fact, footfall in retail parks is only 10.6% lower than 2019, compared with shopping centres where footfall is 32.4% lower and high streets where it’s 39.1% lower.
High streets as a whole are being adversely impacted by lack of footfall returning to Central London and other regional cities. These locations generate the greatest amount of footfall of any type of high street in the UK, and in Central London, footfall remains 61.2% lower than last year while in regional cities it’s 49.8% lower.
It’s perhaps no surprise that footfall in smaller more local high streets or those appealing to holiday-makers has recovered to a far greater extent. In Outer London the drop in footfall from last year is now just 29.5%, in coastal towns it’s -28.7%, in historic towns -34.1% and in market towns -28.3%. That reflects a trend for consumers to ‘shop local’ and also the large number of people taking ‘staycations’ in Britain this year.
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