Footfall across UK city centre high streets bounced back last week following disruption caused by rail strikes. Across UK high streets footfall increased by +13% compared to 2022 levels, while footfall across all UK retail destinations rose annually by +9.1%, said MRI Springboard.
Consumers returned to UK high streets after trains strikes the week before, with city centres boosted by the return of workers to the office. Footfall at MRI Springboard’s Central London “Back to the Office” benchmark, which tracks footfall around office hotspots, tracked a +36.4% boost to footfall compared to 2022. Cities outside the capital also benefited, as annual footfall climbed +19% at regional cities excluding London.
In comparison, footfall outside city centres experienced more muted annual increases. Footfall increased annually by just +6.6% at market towns and +8.8% at historic towns.
Despite the bounce back, the gap to pre-pandemic levels remained visible last week. Against 2019 levels footfall was down -14.5% across UK retail destinations. Footfall in Central London remains -19.7% below pre-pandemic levels.
Diane Wehrle, insights director at MRI Springboard, said: “Footfall across UK retail destinations rose last week from the week before with increases across all three destination types. However, last week was clearly a week when consumers returned to UK high streets following train strikes in the week before last. While the uplift in high street footfall from the week before was only in line with the average from the start of 2022, it was three times as great as in retail parks and shopping centres.
“On an annual basis too, the rise in footfall in high streets was nearly double that in shopping centres and ten times that in retail parks. By far the greatest recovery in high footfall from 2022 occurred in large city centres – in London and elsewhere across the UK – most probably driven by employees returning to their offices, whilst there were far more modest year on year increases in smaller high streets.
“Performance was positive across much of the UK, with rises in footfall from the week before in seven of the 10 geographies.”