Retail Footfall Shows Increase

The level of retail footfall rose last week, according to new figures from Springboard.

Data from the organisation showed there was an overall 1.1 per cent rise in footfall, suggesting a growing confidence among consumers to come back to the shops in person following the easing of restrictions on May 17th, despite some concerns about the impact of the variant first seen in India, which has been spreading rapidly in a few hotspots.

However, the figures did represent a degree of shift from the previous week, with the increase mainly comprised of a one per cent increase in shopping centre visits and a 2.4 per cent rise on the high street. This contrasted with a 1.7 per cent drop at retail parks.

Other findings included a shift towards city centres and away from suburbs. For instance, central London enjoyed an 11.8 per cent rise, while coastal towns witnessed a 2.3 per cent increase.

This was possibly linked with factors such as the accompanying level of other offers, such as food and evening entertainment. Indeed, a notable feature has been the fact that shopping areas were busier in the evenings.

What it certainly shows is that retail maintenance will be important and relevant to ensuring stores are in the best shape as they welcome back consumers, some of whom may be taking tentative steps back into a busier lifestyle after being very cautious over the last few months.

Giving the data a cautious welcome, insights director at Springboard Diane Wehrle observed that there is still ground to be made up on pre-pandemic conditions.

She remarked: “Despite the uplift in footfall last week from the week before, there is still significant ground to be made up as footfall across all UK retail destinations remains more than a quarter below the 2019 level.”

Some retailers are doing rather better than others in the current climate, with Marks & Spencer particularly feeling the pinch but battling back thanks to a new food deal with Ocado.

The firm has just revealed plans to close 30 stores over the next decade as part of restructuring plans.