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Trio of bank holidays in May give UK 3.3% boost in annual footfall

Tom Bottomley
01 June 2023

The three bank holidays in May – including the extra one in honour of the King’s Coronation on 8 May – helped footfall jump 3.3% across all UK retail destinations compared to the same month in 2022, though consumer resilience “may be short-lived”.

High streets drove the increase from April 2023, with footfall increasing 3.6% versus drops in footfall in shopping centres and retail parks of 2.2% and 0.9% respectively, according to retail experts MRI Springboard.

An overall rise of 1.1% in footfall in May compared to April followed a rise of 7.2% from March to April – the first time that footfall has increased in two consecutive months since August 2022.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at MRI Springboard, said: “With three official bank holidays May 2023 was a unique month in the retail calendar, and it appears that it provided a further boost to retail stores and destinations with a rise in footfall of 1.1% from April.

“In overall terms, the uplift in footfall in May demonstrates a greater degree of consumer resilience than initially envisaged, but that consumers are selective about when they spend.

“This is highlighted by stronger performance over the weekends in May when high street footfall rose by 6.4% from April versus 2.2% during weekday periods.

“With food inflation remaining at the highest rate for decades this should be regarded as an oasis in the desert, with a summer of caution ahead as consumers brace themselves for further price rises and rein in shopping trips and spending.”

Other key findings from MRI Springboard’s latest data include:

  • The gap from the 2019 footfall level in May narrowed to -10.8% from -12% in April across all UK retail destinations.
  • High street footfall rose by 9.2% from 2022 over the early May bank holiday weekend.
  • The stronger performance of high streets during the period of public holidays is likely a reflection of the wider hospitality offering.
  • 27% of consumers dined out at least once a week in May, rising from 21% in February and 18% in November 2021.

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