Shoppers cautious of Omicron variant as footfall stalls

According to retail experts Springboard,footfall rose by +0.7% in UK retail destinations last week from the week before.

This was derived wholly from rises in shopping centres that saw an increase of +2.3% and retail parks where footfall increased by +1.3%, whilst footfall in high streets declined marginally by -0.4%.

Although footfall in Central London rose by +0.5%, it was from an uplift in retail areas by +1.8% which shows a focus on Christmas shopping.

However, the early impact of the Omicron variant is suggested by a -2% decline in Springboard’s Central London Back to the Office Benchmark. In addition, footfall in large cities outside the capital declined by -3.8% from the week before, whilst it rose by +1% in small market towns as more shoppers stayed local.

Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard commented: “Footfall in UK retail destinations last week was inevitably more subdued last week than the previous week which had included Black Friday.  Footfall rose marginally, and it was wholly driven by uplifts in activity in retail parks and shopping centres whilst there was a modest decline in high streets. 

“The strong comparison of Black Friday in the week before meant the drop in footfall on Friday was significant enough to halve the uplift in footfall over the seven day period.

“Last week also provided the first evidence of an early impact on footfall of the Omicron variant; Springboard’s Central London Back to the Office benchmark (comprising only those areas in close proximity to offices) declined last week from the week before, whilst footfall across Central London as a whole – which is clearly being supported by the Christmas trading period – increased, rising by even more in those areas with a predominance of retail stores.”

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