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Lockdown easing leads to just a small footfall increase says Springboard

Published
May 18, 2020
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Regular monthly and weekly footfall reports may seem somewhat irrelevant during lockdown. But as a gauge of how willing consumers are to venture out of their homes and into retail areas, they remain a good guide.


Footfall to retail destinations remains a small fraction of what it once was



Springboard’s latest report on Monday said that last week, in the first week of eased lock down restrictions, UK footfall increased by just 3.3% from the week before across all retail destinations. 

The big news for the period was that garden centres were allowed to reopen and the footfall figures might suggest the pent-up demand for gardening products wasn’t what had been expected. They might also mean that fashion stores could see a similar effect several weeks down the line when they’re allowed to reopen.

However, the fact that footfall rose by 21% on Friday and by 8.7% on Saturday could point to more ‘normal’ behaviour being seen with the most concentrated shopping behaviour returning to the end of the week/weekend as more people went back to work on other days. This concentration of activity in just two days was made even clearer by the fact that over the five days between Sunday and Thursday, footfall declined by an average of 2.4% from the week before.

Springboard also said that there was a strong rise in footfall from the week before of 8.7% in coastal towns and 3.8% in historic towns, also suggesting that pent-up demand for ‘getting away from it all’ is high. If so, stores in such locations could get a boost from ‘staycationers’ in the months ahead if the weather stays good.

Last week was the fourth weekly increase in a six-week period, but it was a more modest one than the rise of 11.7% in the previous (bank holiday) week. 

It included a 4.1% rise in footfall in retail parks, although this was lower than the increase over the week in shopping centres (5.4%). 

There was significant a variation across the UK, and interestingly, the largest rise in footfall of 9.1% was in Wales where restrictions haven’t yet been relaxed. In England, the largest rise in footfall of 8% occurred in the South West where there are numerous coastal towns. But with central London still mainly closed, it saw a 4.1% fall, with a 0.1% drop in Greater London.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard said: "It certainly appears that the relaxing of restrictions was well timed, as people had already started to venture out over the past six weeks”. But she added that people “are continuing to heed the government's guidance and are adopting a cautious approach with regard to leaving their homes.”

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