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Warm weather and easing of restrictions drives footfall up, but Easter hit by cold Monday

Published: 7 April 2021 - Neil Mead

Footfall across UK retail destinations rose by +8.5% last week from the week before, but was fuelled primarily by the warm weather at the beginning of the week.

The increase in activity in high streets and retail parks was of a similar magnitude (+9% in high streets and +9.7% in retail parks) but the rise of +6.3% in shopping centres was a third lower as shoppers gravitated to external environments to make the most of the warm and sunny weather. The warmer temperatures in the south of the UK meant that the rise in footfall in Greater London and the South East and South West averaged +10.8% versus an average of +6.7% elsewhere.

Having passed the anniversary of Lockdown 1 footfall last week was +68.1% higher than in the same week in 2020, but still -57.3% lower than in 2019.

In comparison, over the Easter weekend footfall was -7.6% lower as a whole than over the same four days in the week before. Footfall rose from the previous week in coastal and historic towns (by +8.5% and +3.4%), and also in Central London (+5.8%). In all of these three town types there was a particularly significant uplift on Sunday, driven by the opportunity to meet up with friends and family in warm and sunny weather; on this one day footfall rose from the previous Sunday by +58.4% in Coastal towns, by +34.9% in Historic towns and by +54.1% in Central London.

The cold weather on Monday impacted the overall result for the Easter weekend, with a drop in footfall on Monday from the week before of -20.2% across all retail destinations, although footfall rose in retail parks by +8.7% as shoppers replenished food after the weekend. 

Following the easing of restrictions people ventured out to larger destinations over the Easter weekend; footfall in market towns - which up to now had been more resilient than larger towns and cities - dropped by -13.6% over the four days versus a rise of +5.8% in Central London and a drop of just -3.5% in regional cities outside of the capital. This meant that in Central London and other large cities footfall was three times as great as it had been over Easter 2020 (+200.5% in Central London and +209.3% in Regional Cities) although it was still less than 30% of the 2019 level (-79.2% in Central London and -72.1% in Regional Cities).

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard commented: “With exceptional weather across most of the UK it was not a surprise that last week footfall rose across all retail destinations from the week before, and with the warmest weather occurring in the south it was unsurprising that this part of the UK that benefited the most.  Footfall rose across all three destination types, but external environments inevitably benefitted more than shopping centres where the rise in footfall was a third lower than in high streets and retail parks.  Following the anniversary of the start of Lockdown 1 in the week before, footfall last week was 1.5 times as great as it was in the same week in 2020, but still two thirds lower than in 2019.

The Easter weekend was a week earlier than in 2020, with Good Friday and Easter Saturday overlapping the end of the week. The Easter weekend as a whole (Friday to Monday) was disappointing with a drop in footfall from the same four days in the previous week, however, the bank holiday weekend was hampered by the cold weather on Monday.  Despite this, footfall was more than double that over Easter in 2020 although still more than a half lower than over Easter in 2019.”


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