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UK footfall growth rate slows, but malls start to see higher traffic

Published
Jul 21, 2020
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UK footfall may have been on a generally upward trajectory since stores reopened last month, but it has been unable to maintain the double-digit increase seen in the early days of reopening.


Malls are seeing visitor traffic returning, even though they remain empty compared to last year



Footfall across all UK retail destinations rose by 4.5% last week from the week before, Springboard said. It was less than half the rise of 10.6% seen during the reopening of hospitality and leisure businesses in England on July 4.

On the plus side though, the rise was driven by high streets and shopping centres, where footfall rose by 6.8% and 4.7% respectively, while it declined marginally by 0.7% in retail parks. And the year on year decline is 40.2%, which is the smallest drop since the start of the lockdown.

Shopping centres and high streets seeing an (albeit modest) bounce-back is encouraging given that shopping centres in particular had been the most challenged locations as stores reopened. Consumers had seemed unwilling to venture into indoor spaces due to fears of a spike in coronavirus infections.

The fact that they’re now prepared to go back to such indoor shopping destinations is a sign of increasing confidence. This could be driven by a mixture of measures taken by mall owners and shops to ensure maximum hygiene, as well as the coronavirus infection rate remaining under control and – more recently – good news on potential vaccines and Covid-19 treatments.

Springboard added that retail footfall rose on all but one day last week, peaking on Wednesday and Thursday when the rise in footfall averaged 9.9%. On the weekend days that bookended the week (the seven-day period starts on Sunday and ends on Saturday), the rise averaged just 1.3%. The company said this is an indication of the ongoing effect on footfall of the large number of people still on furlough and shopping on weekdays rather than at the weekend as they would usually do.

The results by nation also showed the impact of the easing of lockdown restrictions, with footfall in Scotland and Wales rising from the previous week by 21.7% and 15.6% respectively. In Scotland's shopping centres, which opened for the first time last week, footfall rose by as much as 66.7%. And in Wales footfall in high streets rose by 27.5%.  

City and town centres have been among the most challenged destinations since reopening, but in Central London and other large cities around the UK, footfall rose by 15% over the week – more than double the rate of increase across all UK high streets. Yet the gap between last year and this year remains huge, with an annual decline of 67.2% in historic towns and 71.3% in Central London as tourists and office workers stay away.

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