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UK footfall drops in lead up to half term week and drift back to the office slows

Tom Bottomley
26 October 2021

Footfall across all UK retail destinations declined by -1.5% last week, 17-23 October, compared to the week before, with the dip in activity in the week before the school half term break cited, along with the drift back to the office beginning to slow.

Footfall rose marginally by +0.9% in retail parks and by +0.4% in shopping centres, but footfall declined by -3.6% in high streets across the UK, according to the latest data from retail experts Springboard. The drop in footfall in Central London was not as dramatic at -1.2%.

Springboard's ‘Back to the Office’ benchmark, which tracks those areas in Central London that are dominated by offices rather than retail, declined by -4.2%. Together with a drop in footfall of -5.1% in regional cities outside of the capital, that suggests that the drift back to the office has slowed, potentially due to the knowledge of the rising number of COVID-19 cases being reported.

UK footfall is +27.9% higher than in 2020, but the dip in activity last week meant that this narrowed slightly from +28.1% from the week before, and the gap from 2019 widened slightly to -15.3% from -14%.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard, commented: “Footfall declined across UK retail destinations last week, which was not an unexpected result given that many schools have their half term holiday this week and a dip in activity in the week before the school break is a long term trend as shopping trips are deferred. Our insight shows that in five of the six years between 2014 and 2019 footfall declined from the week before in the week preceding the October school half term break.

“High streets drove the drop in footfall last week, while it rose marginally in retail parks and shopping centres. It seems that the drift back to the office has also slowed with an even larger drop in regional cities outside of the capital, and in Springboard's ‘Back to the Office’ benchmark - those parts of Central London dominated by offices rather than retail. On a positive note, the drop in footfall in Central London as a whole was a third of that across UK high streets, suggesting that more visits are being made into the capital for retail and leisure purposes.


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