Oct 7, 2021
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'Steady September’ saved by staycations, start of return to offices - Springboard

Oct 7, 2021

The signs are looking good. UK retail footfall “surprisingly" continued to strengthen in September.

Photo: Nigel Taylor

What’s more, a month that saw a combination of employees returning to office working together with the beginnings of the return of overseas tourists, “will add further support to footfall in retail stores and destinations as we near the Christmas trading period”, Springboard said Thursday.

September footfall narrowed the gap from 2019 to -17.4% from -18.6% in August, “countering the downward trend in footfall often recorded in September”, its latest readings show. Footfall declined from 2019 by 20.3% in high streets, 23.6% in shopping centres and 4.6% in retail parks.

Although this is the most marginal improvement of any month in 2021, “this result is more positive than it first appears”, it said. It noted that last month’s results went against the long-term footfall trend for September, which traditionally is a month in which footfall levels off or declines from the year before as schools go back and spending for the festive period is yet to start.

Springboard also said September benefited from the late timing of the August bank holiday, boosting high street footfall due to the popularity of daycations and staycations.

It said this is evidenced by the gap from 2019 in high streets narrowing to -20.3% in September from -23.5% in August. Over the two weeks that spanned the bank holiday weekend, high street footfall improved to -19.1% below 2019 versus -26.3% in the week before.

It said: “The long-term impact of online in both reducing in-store browsing and in shifting some spending away from stores, meant that footfall declined by around 1.5% per annum over the past decade.

"Therefore, regardless of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s likely that retail footfall would have declined by 3% from 2019, and by circa 4% in high streets, implying that the true impact of Covid on footfall is around -14% to -16%”.

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