Nov 10, 2020
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Footfall dives after pre-lockdown mini-boom, city centres face tough four weeks

Nov 10, 2020

The latest footfall figures from specialist tracking company Springboard clearly showed the impact of the English lockdown that began on Thursday. 

Central London footfall is still weak - Photo: Sandra Halliday

The company said that there was a mini-boom in the lead up to Lockdown 2.0, followed by plummeting footfall as the new rules began.

It tracks three types of destination – high streets, retail parks and shopping centres – and footfall across all of them fell by 15.4% last week compared to the previous week. As is often the case, retail parks were resilient with a drop of only 9.7%, while high streets fell 16.2% and shopping centres 18.9%.

Those figures make sense given that shopping centres are more likely to play host to the kind of non-essential stores that have been forced to close in England. Retail parks, by contrast are the most likely to host big supermarkets and home essentials stores, as well as other store types that have been allowed to continue operating.

From Thursday to Saturday footfall plummeted to an average annual drop of 61.6% across all retail destinations.

But Scotland saw a marginal rise in footfall of 0.9% from the week before and footfall in Wales – even before its two-week lockdown ended – rose 10.9% from the previous week. Northern Ireland, in comparison, saw a decline of 3.6%.

Looking at the four days between Sunday and Thursday, footfall had risen by an average of 11.7% from the week before as shoppers rushed to buy before the lockdown rules began. In fact, on Tuesday and Wednesday the uplift averaged 18.9%, with a peak of 20.4% on Wednesday.

However, observations by the FashionNetwork.com team also suggest that the impact of this new lockdown isn't quite as devastating as the first one. The early weeks of the spring lockdown saw shopping areas all but deserted, whereas this weekend, that was far from the case as the rules are slightly more liberal this time.

But that's little comfort to retailers in what once were the UK's busiest shopping areas with the week to last Saturday showing that central London footfall remained down 56.2%, while regional cities were down 52.4%.

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