Latest data from retail experts Springboard reveals that footfall across all retail destinations declined last week by -15.4% from the week before, a complete volte-face from the week before when footfall had increased by +6.2%.
However, the result for the week as a whole disguises the mini-boom which inevitably occurred in the days leading up to the lockdown which commenced on Thursday. Over the four days between Sunday and Thursday, footfall rose from the week before by an average of +11.7%, and on Tuesday and Wednesday the uplift averaged +18.9% peaking at +20.4% on Wednesday. From Thursday onwards footfall crashed, which of course is the overriding objective of the lockdown, and footfall declined by an average of -46.7% from the week before.
The outcome of the week on week shift in footfall, initially upward and then downward, in terms of the annual change meant that between Sunday and Wednesday footfall was just 17.8% lower than 2019 (half of the annual decline of -34.6% on the same four days in the week before). From Thursday to Saturday, however, footfall plummeted to an average annual drop of -61.6% across all retail destinations - once again half of the annual decline of -29.9% in the week before.
Once again, retail parks continue to be far more resilient than high streets or shopping centres, fuelled by the presence of food stores, with a drop in footfall from the week before of -9.7% versus -16.2% in high streets and -18.9% in shopping centres. This translated into an annual decline in footfall in retail parks of -18.8% compared with declines from 2019 of more double this in both high streets (-46%) and shopping centres (-42.2%).
Geographically, footfall varied by nation with a marginal rise of +0.9% from the week before in Scotland and a decline of -3.6% in Northern Ireland; but in Wales – even before its two week lockdown had ended - footfall rose by +10.9% from the week before, although it still remained 70% lower than in 2019.
Diane Wehrle, Springboard’s Insight Director stated: “Last week was in the clearest sense a week of two halves. With the second lockdown being announced on Saturday evening before the start of the week on Sunday, but not coming into force until Thursday, it was inevitable that there would be a last minute surge in activity, which is exactly what occurred.
The resilience of retail parks has been consistent throughout this year and has remained true during this new lockdown with footfall declining almost half that of high streets and shopping centres last week. As shops closed throughout the UK from Thursday, the bounce back effect of footfall on high streets and in shopping centres after 2nd December may illuminate whether the Christmas season can provide a much needed boost to the retail sector.”