UK footfall rises in February despite disruption of Storms Dudley and Eunice
Overall UK footfall increased by 9.1% between 20–26 February 2022 compared to the previous month, the largest single monthly uplift since June 2021 and nearly three times as great as the rise from September to October 2021, before the Omicron variant hit.
A promising start to February footfall was briefly dampened by Storms Dudley and Eunice in the third week of the month, before bouncing back towards the end of February.
Footfall strengthened only slightly in February to -20.7% below the same month in pre-pandemic 2019, going from -20.8% in January 2022, according to the latest data from retail experts Springboard.
However, in the absence of the extreme weather in the third week of the month it is likely that the overall result for February 2022 would have been more like circa -18% below 2019.
Breaking it down in to shopping areas, footfall declined from 2019 by -26.2% in high streets, -24.1% in shopping centres and -5.3% in retail parks.
A modest drift back to the office left footfall in Central London and in cities outside London -31.9% and -29.8% below the 2019 level respectively in February, versus -27.3% in market towns and -20.2% in outer London.
Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard, said: “The uplift in February 2022 is a reverse of the result in six of the nine years up to and including 2019 when the annual change in footfall in February worsened from January despite the occurrence of the school half term, offering a source of optimism for retailers in what remains a retail landscape that is impacted to some degree by Covid.
“February appeared to represent a sweet spot in terms of returning footfall, with consumers’ confidence riding high on the back of the removal of COVID restrictions. However, the concern for retailers over the coming months must be the likely impact on spending of rising household energy prices and fuel costs.”