UK shopper footfall still rising ahead of lockdown easing
Consumers are continuing to act as if the lockdown is in its endgame, despite the fact that non-essential stores won't be able to open until April 12 at the earliest. The latest footfall report from specialist tracking company Springboard said that once again in the last week, visitor traffic rose compared to the week before, with an 11% increase this time.
And it was high streets that benefited the most as mild weather drove footfall there up 15.9%, while shopping centres were up 6% and retail parks 5.9%.
What’s particularly interesting about these figures is that no more shops were open in the seven days up to February 27 than have been open all year. But it's clear that consumers are feeling more comfortable heading towards the few shops that are able to open their doors, as well as just having a general feeling that they want to get out and about.
This bodes well for the April 12 opening that's been announced for England (the other countries of the UK either haven't announced their dates or are opening later). The problem with reopening after the original lockdown last year was that consumers were still extremely nervous about visiting shops, but this time, it could be that the strong vaccine rollout is giving them more confidence.
That was clear as Springboard said footfall increased on all but one day last week, with a very noticeable acceleration in activity on Friday and Saturday as the weather improved. The gap in footfall in retail destinations from 2020 narrowed to -56.5%, from -62.1% the week before.
Springboard also said the rise in footfall was more than 10% in all types of town centre, but the rises were greatest in regional cities outside London (+18.6%), coastal towns (+18.4%) and historic towns (+16.1%). But even in Central London, footfall rose by +16.4% week-on-week, although this uplift was from a much lower base than elsewhere. It means central London is still down 82.3% year-on-year, which is no surprise given that office workers and tourists are still largely absent
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