The reopening of non-essential retail in April delivered a huge uplift in footfall in stores and destinations, halving the gap from 2019, reports Springboard.
Footfall was -32.7% lower than the 2019 pre-pandemic level, compared with -55.2% in March. Footfall declined from 2019 by -41.5% in high streets, -39% in shopping centres and -7.4% in retail parks.
In high streets, the annual decline moved from -65.1% in week one to an average of -32.3% between weeks two and four. In shopping centres it moved from -67.8% in week one to an average of -27.7% between weeks two and four, and in retail parks it moved from -25.8% in week one to an average of just -0.9% between weeks two and four.
Springboard says the results reflect its predictions for a substantial boost to footfall following retail's reopening, and is evidence of significant pent-up consumer demand for bricks-and-mortar stores. This is also reflected in the UK store vacancy rate, which strengthened in April to 11.5%, from 11.7% in January.
Diane Wehrle, Springboard's marketing & insights director, comments: "With the imminent opening of indoor hospitality in the next two weeks, we are anticipating that the gap between the level of footfall in 2019 and 2021 will narrow further, although the extent to which this occurs will be a function of the degree to which there is a return to office working, the growth in both domestic and overseas tourism in the UK and the impact on employment of the end of the furlough scheme in September."