Lockdown hits post-Christmas retail footfall

The latest data from Springboard reveals that post-Christmas shopper footfall across UK retail destinations declined by -23.2% WoW last week, with the biggest drop seen in shopping centres (-31.8%), then in high streets (-21.9%) and retail parks (-16.8%).

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues into 2021, footfall across the UK as a whole was -55.7% lower than in the same week last year – -64.6% lower in high streets, -60% lower in shopping centres and -31.9% lower in retail parks. The impact of tightened Government restrictions post Christmas is highly apparent, with footfall in Tier 4 locations -72.2% lower than last year, while only -33.9% lower in Tier 3 locations.

Springboard data highlights that footfall in Scotland and Northern Ireland plummeted as these two nations entered lockdown, with a drop from the week before of -58% in Scotland and -74.4% in Northern Ireland. Footfall in Wales only dropped marginally over the week (by -8.6%), but it had undergone a far larger decline in footfall of -59.7% in the week before when it entered its own lockdown. In each of the three nations, the annual decline in footfall last week was greater than in England (-68% in Scotland, -70.3% in Wales and -78.3% in Northern Ireland, versus -53.4% in England).

With the ‘stay home, stay local’ message back in force in the new year, it is unsurprising that the greatest loss of footfall from last year continues to occur in London and large city centres across the UK, where last week it was -81.8% lower than in the same week last year, says Springboard. Smaller towns continue to be more resilient, although declines in footfall are still significant, with an annual decline in footfall of -59.3% in coastal towns, -69.6% in historic towns and -63.2% in market towns. However, last week, London was the only place where footfall actually rose from the week before – by +2.5% in Central London – possibly a result of Londoners using the post-Christmas week to explore the city while it is thought to be quieter.

Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, comments: “The end of the festive trading period and tightened Government restrictions unsurprisingly saw footfall in UK retail destinations drop significantly at the end of 2020. Moving into a new year, with the extension of Tier 4 across virtually all of England and lockdowns in place in the devolved nations, retailers are unlikely to see any respite until restrictions are eased in the coming weeks or months.

“We know from our experience of retail re-opening in June 2020 that until the widespread rollout of the vaccine, retail footfall will remain significantly below the pre-Covid level.”

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