Omicron variant and plan B guidance take toll on UK footfall

Footfall in December was clearly impacted by the rapid spread of
the Omicron variant and the introduction of Plan B guidance by the
government from the third week of December, according to retail analyst Springboard’s footfall monitor and insights report for December.

Footfall worsened noticeably during December, to -18.6% below 2019 levels compared with -14.5% in November.

Footfall declined from 2019 by -22.2% in high streets, -24.1% in shopping
centres and -4.9% in retail parks.

The most improvement occurred in retail parks, where footfall was +5.1% higher than in 2019, which Springboard attributed to shoppers visiting food stores to stock up on Christmas groceries.

However, this result is partially distorted by the date offset of Christmas in 2019, when Christmas Day fell on Wednesday of the fourth week of the month leaving only three full trading days versus five trading days in 2021.

Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle commented: “The biggest challenge for the retail sector in the weeks to come will be the ongoing working from home guidance that suppresses footfall, combined with increasing staff shortages due to isolation and the great return of goods purchased over the Christmas period.”

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