May 10, 2021
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Poor weather hits UK retail footfall, Scotland's reopening numbers much brighter

May 10, 2021

Poor spring weather hit shopper footfall last week, denting overall visitor numbers to all UK retail destinations across the seven-day period (2-8 May), according to Springboard’s latest figures.

Photo: Nigel Taylor

But the picture was much brighter for Scotland. Footfall there was well above expectations as non-essential stores reopened their doors after a four-month lockdown, according to the latest figures from Ipsos.

Dreary weather meant total footfall dipped 4.1% week-on-week as activity in high streets were hit harder, down 6.6% on the previous week. Meanwhile, rainy and windy conditions also dampened visits to retail parks and shopping centres where footfall declined more modestly, by 1.3% and 1.5% respectively.

At a UK level, the decline in footfall from 2019 now sits at 27.2% in shopping centres, 35.6% in high streets and just 1.3% in retail parks 

By contrast, Scottish shoppers were eager to return to stores, so its first day of trading saw footfall rise 21.8% compared to 2019 levels. Tuesday and Wednesday also saw uplifts in shopper numbers. That meant overall, shopper numbers there were down just 6.2% in the first week after reopening on 26 April, compared to the same period in 2019.

But looking UK-wide again, the 2019 vs 2021 reduction in activity was widespread, spanning all areas apart from Northern Ireland, where the rise in footfall of 21.1% reflected the impact of the reopening of retail on Friday 30 April. Footfall in Central London last week was still 61.2% lower than its 2019 level compared with Outer London where it was 16.6% lower than its level two years ago.

Diane Wehrle, Insights director at Springboard said: “The impact of the rain was evident, with a more modest drop in activity in the enclosed environments of shopping centres and in retail parks that are easily accessible by car than in high streets. 

“The ongoing resilience of retail parks throughout the pandemic in retaining shopper numbers meant that last week footfall in this destination type was only marginally below the 2019 pre-pandemic level."

Looking at Scotland’s numbers, Dr Tim Denison, head of analytics and insights at Ipsos, added: “It’s very clear that consumers are celebrating their return to the shops following their closure from Boxing Day.

"Their love of shopping and its sociable nature are elements dear to the heart of Scots, so it is uplifting, if not totally surprising, that the early footfall data are so encouraging”.

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