Footfall strengthened in May to -13.7% below 2019 levels, from -15.9% in April
2022, according to Springboard’s Store Sales Tracker. It declined from 2019 by -16.4% in high streets, -17.8% in shopping centres and -3.5% in retail parks.
However, May started off well with footfall buoyed by the Early May Bank Holiday. According to Springboard, there was a rise of +1.5% from the week before, which meant that footfall was just -9.3% below 2019 across all retail destinations and -0.6% below 2019 in retail parks, the narrowest gap from 2019 since the pandemic.
Diane Wehrle, Marketing & Insights Director at Springboard, commented: “From then on, however, footfall worsened, ending the month at -16.1% below the 2019 level in the last week. This suggests that there is a split between those who have cash or who have been able to save over the pandemic period and are therefore able to make the most of spending opportunities, and those who are just about managing due to the rising inflation and increased bills as it is these people who are having to really rail back on their shopping activity.”
Despite the uncertain prospects for household budgets, and therefore for footfall and spending, there was positive news for retailers at the start of the Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday period. On the Thursday, footfall rose by +17.7% across all retail destinations from the week before. However, it was high streets that were the star performers on the Thursday, undoubtedly helped by the warm and sunny weather and the Jubilee events being held in many town centres, with a rise of +22.6% on Thursday versus +14.8% in shopping centres and +10.2% in retail parks.
Said Wehrle: “All types of town centre benefited on Thursday but given the good weather and the fact that it was a school half-term holiday, coastal towns had exceptional performance, with footfall increasing by a huge +63.7% from the previous Thursday, resulting in an uplift of +21.3% from the 2019 level on that one day.”
On the Friday and the Saturday of the Jubilee weekend, footfall was lower than on the same days in the previous week (-6.7% on Friday and -10.4% on Saturday), as shoppers turned their attention to more local jubilee celebrations, but high streets remained slightly more resilient than either retail parks or shopping centres.