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UK footfall edges up as office workers return, Central London down down 'only' 51%

Published
Sep 7, 2020
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Footfall to UK city centres may remain stubbornly low, but in the week that kids returned to school for the first time in many months, some adults also felt the time was right to get back to their workplaces.


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On Monday, Springboard said that footfall across all retail destinations throughout the UK rose by only 0.4% last week. But high streets, where many office workplaces are located, saw a 2.6% uplift week-on-week. At the same time, footfall to retail parks dropped 0.9% and to shopping centres it went down 2.7%, also suggesting that many consumers were now back in their offices.

And that view was further supported by the fact that Greater London high streets in particular saw a visitor traffic increase of 5.3% in the seven days to September 5. 

Getting UK consumers back to their town centre workplaces is seen as a crucial step in returning retail to normal. Empty offices have combined with low tourist flows to devastate footfall to some of the biggest (and most expensive, rent-wise) fashion retail stores in the country.

This is especially the case in Central London where the large number of restaurants and cafes that remain closed is a major clue to just how low footfall is in the area.

Springboard said that while week-on-week footfall is edging up overall, across the country it remains down 25% year-on-year. However, this is the best result since the start of lockdown.

The firm’s view that the return to workplaces has supported footfall can be seen by the fact that the four working days from Tuesday to Friday saw a higher spike on high streets and lower footfall than the week as a whole in retail parks and shopping centres.

But despite the relatively good news, especially with Greater London high street footfall accelerating, it remains more that 40% down on the year. 

Central London was also down 50.9% during the week, a depressing figure, although far better than the 60%+ decline that was reported during July and August. Footfall to regional city centres is down 39.5%.

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