UK footfall helped by pub and hairdresser reopenings, but visitor traffic still low
The reopening of pubs and other leisure outlets in England may have boosted evening footfall at the weekend, but retail football in general remained well below that of a year ago.
On Monday, specialist footfall tracker Springboard said that retail and hospitality outlets saw a surge in visitors on Saturday after 5pm.
But overall daytime footfall was a problem with big cities suffering in particular as the destinations that used to be shopping hotspots continued to reel from the absence of tourists and workers.
In fact, central London visitor traffic was down 75% year-on-year on Saturday. Regional cities weren’t far behind while historic towns and coastal towns — which are also usually tourist magnets — were down almost 60%.
Across England fort the whole weekend, the number of people who visited shopping and leisure destinations was only around half of the year-ago figure. Footfall dropped 57.7% across all destinations in England on Saturday, and 53.4% on Sunday.
That said, there were some signs of partial recovery with footfall to retail destinations on Saturday rising compared to the previous Saturday in England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, but not Wales.
This was helped by the lifting of lockdown restrictions on businesses such as hairdressers, as well as the cafés and restaurants, which are all part of the overall appeal of physical shopping destinations.
And it was clear that these reopening were more important than shopping overall in England as consumers prioritised the chance to eat or drink out as well as get a haircut.
Footfall to England’s high streets rose by 19.6% on Saturday and 28.3% on Sunday in comparison to the weekend before. But in shopping centres, where there’s a limited offering of restaurants and venues with alcohol permits, the rise was just 6% on Saturday and 10.7% on Sunday. In retail parks, where the hospitality offering is even more limited, footfall declined on both Saturday and Sunday (by 7.6% on Saturday and 3.6% on Sunday).
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