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Easter lifts April footfall with “optimism building for retail” in May

Tom Bottomley
05 May 2023

Footfall jumped 7.2% in April compared to March across all UK retail destinations, and was up 4.7% on 2022 levels – versus just +0.7% in March - as retailers were boosted by "strong" Easter results.

The gap in footfall from pre-pandemic 2019 also narrowed in April to -12%, compared to -14.9% in March, according to the latest data from retail experts MRI Springboard.

Retailers will expect the uplift is a sign of things to come, as May brings three bank holidays and this weekend's Coronation.

Covering the four weeks from 2-29 April 2023, other key findings include:

  • Footfall rose by 7.2% from March to April, reversing a drop of 2.8% from February to March.
  • Easter boosted footfall in April, with a rise in footfall in the week of Good Friday and Easter Saturday of 14.2% from the week before. Footfall dipped in the subsequent week by 10.2% due to Easter Sunday and Easter Monday but rose in the third and fourth weeks of the month (1.7% and 3.8%).
  • Compared to April in pre-pandemic 2019, footfall in April 2023 was -15.6% in high streets, -14.2% in shopping centres and -2% in retail parks.
  • The UK vacancy rate rose to 11% over the quarter to April from 10.2% in January, demonstrating that high streets remain challenged by tight trading conditions.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at MRI Springboard, said: “MRI Springboard’s commentary in March highlighting the fact that shoppers had deferred trips until Easter was proven true, with a 7.2% rise in footfall from March to April which more than offset the drop of 2.8% from February to March.

“The week of Good Friday and Easter Saturday occurred in the first week of the month with footfall rising in that week by 14.2% from the week before, helped by the warm and sunny weather.

“As is generally the case, it was high streets that benefited the most over the Easter period with a rise in footfall of 9.5% from March to April versus 5.1% in retail parks and 4.6% in shopping centres. The same trend has occurred in all but one year since 2009 (footfall in April 2021 was hugely distorted due to the Covid lockdown).

“At the same time, however, an increase in the vacancy rate to 11% in April from 10.2% in January demonstrates that high streets remain challenged by tight trading conditions which has resulted in the closure of some businesses.

“The hope is that the three bank holidays in May – one of which surrounds the once in a lifetime event of the King’s Coronation – will deliver a further fillip to retail destinations and stores.

“This will help to offset the loss of weekday footfall that has come about through hybrid working which is particularly relevant for high streets where in April footfall between Monday and Friday remained 18.2% below the 2019 level versus just 7.2% below 2019 during the weekend.”

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