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May 4, 2021
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Bad weather dents UK retail footfall

May 4, 2021

It’s a factor guaranteed to dent consumer enthusiasm. Bad weather. Footfall across all UK retail destinations declined by 2% week-on-week in the seven days between Sunday 25 April and Saturday 1 May, according to retail experts, Springboard. It cited rain and cooler temperatures as a key factor for the dip.

Photo: Nigel Taylor

In fact, the drop was wholly driven by a 6.1% decline in high streets visits, which are open entirely to the elements. That meant footfall at shopping centres softened the blow, rising 2.8%, while easier-access retail parks visits rose a more modest 1.6%.

And the UK-wide numbers would have been worse were it not for the fact that Scotland and Northern Ireland, following the opening of non-essential retail stores and outdoor hospitality, saw footfall leap by 74.9% and 45.7% respectively.

However, over the bank holiday weekend footfall did strengthen again, increasing from the previous week across all UK destinations by 3.2% on Saturday and by 7.2% on Sunday. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, footfall was more than double the level on the same days in the previous week before retail had reopened.

Footfall also rose significantly on both Saturday and Sunday in regional cities outside London (+20.9% on Saturday and +31.1% on Sunday). But in tourist destinations, such as coastal and historic towns, footfall only rose on Sunday (+10% in coastal towns and +12% in historic towns) while declining on Saturday. 

On Monday, footfall rose marginally from the previous week (by +0.7%) but it was clear that the wind and rain had an impact as footfall in high streets declined by 4.1% while rising 7.4% in the enclosed environments of shopping centres.

By the end of the week on Saturday the gap in footfall from 2019 in all UK retail destinations had widened to -25.9% from -19.9% in the week before. 

However, in less than a month since reopening in England on 12 April, footfall is at virtually the same level as it was after three months following the end of Lockdown 1 in 2020, and in retail parks, footfall is just -2.9% lower than the 2019 level, noted Springboard.

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