November Footfall falls short

Footfall worsened slightly during November, to -14.5% below 2019 compared with -13.4% in October, according to retail analysts Springboard’s latest footfall monitor and insights report.

Footfall declined from 2019 by -15.8% in high streets, -22% in shopping centres and -3.6% in retail parks. However, despite the monthly result worsening there was some progress in the first three weeks, with footfall moving from -14.8% in the second week to -12.4% in the third week.

The relatively poor uplift in footfall in the last week of the month – Black Friday week – impacted the month as a whole; footfall moved from -12.4% in the third week to -17% in week four.

“It is clear that a key cause of the ongoing gap from the 2019 footfall level is that we haven’t yet seen the anticipated office return,” said Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard.

“53% of those employed continue to work from home for at least part of the week , and it is only when this proportion starts to increase in a meaningful way that footfall will consistently return to city centres.

“We must also add to this the impact of the lack of international tourism, which is now unlikely to recover quickly given the emergence of the Omicron variant.

“A further aspect is a long term trend since 2009 of a decline in footfall in UK destinations of around -1.5% a year, primarily due to the migration of a proportion of retail spending online and so, even in the absence of Covid, it is likely that footfall would currently be around -3% lower than the 2019 level.

She added that it will now be ‘a waiting game’ for retailers to see the full extent of the impact of the Omicron variant on bricks and mortar retail in December.

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