According to retail experts Springboard, footfall across UK retail destinations rose marginally by +0.8% last week from the week before. The rise in footfall of +1.6% in high streets from the week before was predominantly due to a bounce back on Wednesday of +10%, in response to a low comparable of -15% in the week before last. Excluding Wednesday, footfall last week was flat from the week before.
Springboard said all signs are pointing to an increased level of cautiousness among consumers; while there were marginal rises in footfall during weekdays, on Saturday – the peak trading day of the week, which has also increased in significance since the pandemic – footfall declined across all three key destination types.
Despite the caution, the +3.3% rise in footfall in large city centres across the UK and a +4.4% increase in Central London, suggests an increase in office versus home working last week. This is particularly the case as it occurred alongside a drop in footfall of -0.8% in Greater London and a +1.4% rise in market towns, which have both benefited from home working since the start of the pandemic.
Despite the modest performance last week, footfall last week was +6.7% higher than in 2021, an improvement from the +5.1% in the previous week. The gap from the 2019 footfall level also narrowed to -9.2% from -10.8% in the week before last.
Diane Wehrle, insightsdsirector at Springboard, said: “Footfall across UK retail destinations strengthened marginally last week from the week before, however, this stronger performance was the result of a bounce back in footfall on Wednesday, when it had plummeted in the week before last due to rain.
“Excluding this one day, footfall was flat from the week before, a strong indicator of the cautiousness of consumers in the light of the current economic challenges. This cautiousness is particularly apparent in a drop in footfall across all three key destination types on Saturday, the peak trading day of the week.
“While consumers are clearly being cautious, the signs pointed to employees gravitating into their offices last week. Footfall in larger cities across the UK rose by twice the high street average, with an even greater uplift in Central London while in market towns and Greater London – which have become strong indicators of the extent of home working – footfall was weaker.
“The increase in office working last week will have supported footfall across the UK, and in both high streets and shopping centres it rose in six of the 10 UK geographies last week. In contrast, in retail parks – which are further away from office locations – footfall declined in all but one area of the UK.
The bounce back in footfall on Wednesday meant that footfall strengthened from 2021 across all three key destination types last week, and the gap from the 2019 level narrowed.”