The latest data from retail expert Springboard reveals that footfall declined by -3.1% across all retail destinations last week from the week before, with largely similar rates of decline in all three destination types (-2.8% in high streets, -3% in retail parks and -3.5% in shopping centres).
The magnitude of the drop in footfall drove the annual result for all UK retail destinations down to -32.3% from -30.9% the week before. This shift occurred in all three destination types, however, while in high streets and shopping centres footfall is now -40% and -34.6% lower than last year respectively, in retail parks the gap from last year remains far more modest, at -13.2%.
Larger cities continue to be hit hardest by the increased restrictions, with footfall in regional cities declining by -5.7%, versus -2.1% in market towns and -1.2% in coastal towns. Footfall in Central London declined by -2.3%, less than half that in regional cities around the UK – however, much of that is due to the fact that the capital has previously recorded far greater drops in footfall than elsewhere. Given the far greater restrictions in the north of England, it is not surprising that the decline in footfall in the North and Yorkshire region of -5% from the week before was the highest of any area of the UK.
The 10pm closure of hospitality meant that the decline in high street footfall post-6pm across the UK of -4.5% was nearly double that over the daytime trading period of 9am to 6pm (-2.4%). However, the results varied significantly between nations – while in Northern Ireland and Scotland high street footfall post-6pm declined by -9.8% and -20.4% respectively, and by an average of -2.3% across English regions, in Wales post-6pm footfall rose by +11.3%. Indeed, Wales was the only nation where high street footfall also rose during the daytime trading period (by +3.8%).
Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, comments: “The additional Covid tiered restrictions had an immediate impact on footfall in retail destinations last week with an across-the-board week-on-week decline – the fourth consecutive drop, and also greater than that in previous weeks. The drop in footfall was equally severe across all three destination types, although on an annual basis retail parks continue to remain by far the most resilient. Notwithstanding this, the YoY decline in footfall in all three destination types accelerated once again, with the largest gap between this year and last year for nine weeks.
"Somewhat inevitably, given the advice for people to work from home and the increased restrictions on travel, footfall in regional cities declined by significantly more than in smaller towns around the UK. The drop in footfall in regional cities outside Central London was twice that in the capital, undoubtedly a function of the fact that footfall has already declined in Central London by far more than elsewhere. It is also no surprise that the drop in footfall in the North and Yorkshire region was more severe than in any other area of the UK.
"The 10pm closure of hospitality is having a clear impact on high street activity during the evening, with far greater declines in footfall post-6pm than over the daytime trading period of 9am to 6pm. This is UK-wide with the exception of Wales, where high street footfall across the day rose last week from the week before.”