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Rainy weather puts dampener on retail footfall

Wet weather saw visits to retailers fall 1.7% across the UK last week, with all but one part of the country seeing declines, while growth in the same week last year made for a tougher comparator.
According to data from retail analysis outfit Springboard, high streets saw visits drop 2.2% week-on-week, while shopping centres saw more modest declines of 1.3%, and retail parks slipped just 1%.

In contrast, the same week last year saw some decent growth, as the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ restaurant discount scheme was in its final weeks, seeing footfall rise 4.1% across all destinations.

Last week, footfall declined in all but one area, with week-on-week drops ranging from 0.6% in the South East to 3.3% in the North and Yorkshire.

The only increase was in Greater London, where footfall rose marginally, by 0.2%.

Springboard said the impact of the rainy weather on visits was clear, with declines in footfall in coastal and historic towns of 2.9% and 3.3%, respectively.

But even local high streets and city centres held little appeal, with a decline of 3.9% in market towns and 4.6% in regional cities outside London reported.

By contrast, footfall in central London rose 5% week-on-week before, with the seven-week run of continual increases being the longest since the same period in 2020.

The impact of the drop in activity last week meant that that the gap from the 2019 footfall level widened again to 20.6%, with the greatest impact being in high streets, where the gap from 2019 moved to a 26.3% decline, from 21.7% last week.

Springboard said the “glimmer of good news” was that footfall overall was 15.1% higher than in the same week last year, and 20.8% in high streets, despite the solid growth figures reported then.

In contrast, the gains made from last year in shopping centres and retail parks were more modest, at 10.4% and 7.7%, respectively.

“The penultimate week of the school summer holiday period was something of a damp squib,” said Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle.

“Rain most days across all areas of the UK accompanied by cool temperatures led to footfall across UK retail destinations dropping from the week before, eradicating all of the uplift gained in the previous week.

“As is usually the case when it rains, high streets fared worse than both the covered environments of shopping centres, and retail parks which are easy to access by car and have parking in close proximity to stores.”

Wehrle said the change in footfall from the week before was in “sharp contrast” to the same week last year, when footfall was boosted by the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, as shoppers made the most of it, and footfall “undoubtedly supported” by the weather, which was hot and sunny.

“The relatively poor performance last week was widespread with declines in footfall from the week before occurring in all but one UK geography, and in all types of high street including coastal and historic towns that appeal to staycationers, as shoppers clearly cut back on making trips.

“Only central London recorded an uplift, which represented the seventh consecutive week in which footfall rose from the week before.”

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