Retail expert Springboard reveals that footfall across the UK is set to rise by up to +47.9% when non-essential retail and outdoor hospitality re-opens in England from 12th April.

According to Springboard, this re-opening will see a +128.5% rise in footfall in comparison to the same week in 2020, yet will remain -61.8% below the 2019 level.

This announcement comes following the delivery of Government’s highly anticipated roadmap to normality post-pandemic on Monday. 

High streets and shopping centres are set to see the largest rises in footfall, of +59% and +46% respectively, while retail parks will see a growth of +26%. Following Lockdown 1, high streets saw an increase of +46.6% – however, Springboard indicates that they are likely to be more attractive to visitors in the week of re-opening post-Lockdown 3 as both non-essential retail and outdoor hospitality will open on the same date of 12th April, and high streets cater for both opportunities. 

Springboard forecasts that there will be a continued uplift into the subsequent week after reopening, with a rise of +10.4%. This rise will be higher than the +7.1% seen after Lockdown 1 – as children return to school following the Easter holidays, many shoppers may choose to defer trips to this week following the re-opening, as parents will no longer have the tie of home schooling. 

Previous data from Springboard has demonstrated that the longer consumers are subject to restrictions, the greater the desire for freedom. After 14 weeks since Lockdown 3 commenced on the 4th January, shoppers are likely to feel safer visiting retail destinations. The success of the UK vaccination programme, which has seen over 60 million individuals vaccinated, will put many at ease to get out to retail destinations who might have previously hesitated. In addition, there is added confidence that retailers have the appropriate social distancing measures in place from 2020 and shoppers have become more accustomed to wearing face coverings in all public locations. 

With social distancing measures set to be eased by 21st June, with a return to near normality and a Government target to have all adults vaccinated with a first dose by 31st July, this will no doubt support footfall across all areas of the UK, states Springboard. Coastal towns are expected to receive a boost in footfall over the summer months as people take advantage of staycations, and regional cities can hope to see footfall rise with the eventual return of office workers, later in the year. Spending is likely to be boosted in the short term by the fact that many consumers who are in work have disposable income to spend that has not been used for holidays and other spending during the lockdowns. 

In what has been a challenging year for retailers both large and small, the retail industry is likely to bounce back in the second half of 2021 as consumers rediscover their love for bricks-and-mortar stores, after many months of online shopping, states Springboard. 

Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, comments: “As we approach the 12-month mark since the start of the pandemic in the UK, lockdown fatigue is at its height and the increases in footfall over the last five weeks have indicated the pent-up demand for a return to normality. We know from when non-essential retail re-opened at the end of lockdowns 1 in June and 2 in December that footfall will rise sharply, and we anticipate this will be more prominent than ever before, with a rise of up to +47.9%. 

“By mid-April, consumers will be looking for sensory and social retail experiences, reconnecting with their favourite brands and purchasing new wardrobes for a summer of social events. We are anticipating a strong initial uplift in April that will continue to rise over the summer months as the economy reopens in the UK.”