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Rain dampens UK footfall across all destinations

Tom Bottomley
23 August 2021

Footfall across UK retail destinations declined by -1.7% last week, 15-21 August, compared to the week before, with the wet weather cited for dampening shopping demand.

Footfall in high streets dropped by -2.2% versus more modest drops of -1.3% in shopping centres and -1% in retail parks, according to the latest data from retail experts Springboard.

Even local high streets and city centres held little appeal, with a decline of -3.9% in market towns and -4.6% in regional cities outside of London. In contrast, footfall in Central London rose by +5% from the week before, with the seven-week run of continual increases being the longest since the same period in 2020.

Footfall in Greater London rose marginally by +0.2%, though the impact of the rainy weather was clear in coastal and historic towns, with footfall at -2.9% and -3.3% respectively.

In the same week last year, when the Eat Out to Help Out scheme was in its final weeks, footfall rose by +4.1% across all destinations.

The drop in activity last week meant that that the gap from the 2019 footfall level widened once again to -20.6%, with the greatest impact being in high streets where the gap from 2019 moved to -26.3% from -21.7% last week.

The glimmer of good news is that footfall overall is +15.1% higher than in the same week last year, and +20.8% in high streets. In contrast the gains made from last year in shopping centres and retail parks are more modest at +10.4% and +7.7% respectively.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard commented: “The penultimate week of the school summer holiday period was something of a damp squib.  Rain most days across all areas of the UK accompanied by cool temperatures led to footfall across UK retail destinations dropping from the week before, eradicating all of the uplift gained in the previous week.

As is usually the case when it rains, high streets fared worse than both the covered environments of shopping centres and retail parks, which are easy to access by car and have parking in close proximity to stores.

“The change in footfall from the week before is in sharp contrast to the same week last year, when footfall was boosted by the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

“The relatively poor performance last week was widespread with declines in footfall from the week before occurring in all but one UK geography, and in all types of high street including coastal and historic towns that appeal to ‘staycationers’, as shoppers clearly cut back on making trips.  Only Central London recorded an uplift, which represented the seventh consecutive week in which footfall rose from the week before.”

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