Footfall at UK retail destinations rose on Monday by a mammoth 155.2% week-on-week, according to fresh data on Tuesday, and by 225.2% in shopping centres, as non-essential retail reopened across England.
The rise in footfall in high streets was slightly lower at 176.1%, analysts Springboard reported, which it put down to cold weather, encouraging shoppers into the enclosed environments of shopping centres.
It said the rise in footfall at retail parks was more modest, although still significant at 35.9% from the previous Monday, but the level of activity in retail parks was higher than in high streets and shopping centres before the reopening due to the presence of food stores.
Even with that more modest rise, footfall on Monday in retail parks was 7.8% higher than on the same Monday in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic struck.
Across all retail destinations, footfall ended up 15.9% lower than on the same Monday in 2019, which Springboard described as an “incredibly positive” result, demonstrating demand for shopping in bricks-and-mortar stores.
In central London – the destination that had been the hardest hit of anywhere in terms of the loss of footfall since the outbreak of the coronavirus, footfall rose by 202.4% from the week before, improving the annual result to a fall of 56% from 2019, compared with a drop of more than 80% during lockdown.
In regional cities outside London the result was more positive, with footfall strengthening and
ending up 27.1% below the 2019 level.
However, while shoppers were venturing out to larger cities, many consumers still stayed local, with a rise in footfall in market towns of 237.2% from the week before, resulting in a drop from 2019 of 6.8%.
In retail destinations in the North and Yorkshire, footfall on Monday was marginally below the 2019 level, slipping 0.8%.
“The first day of retail reopening was an amazingly positive result and one which finally offers retailers with some positive news,” said Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle.
“The strong uplift highlights that consumer demand is higher than even forecasted and shows that bricks-and-mortar still holds a key position within the retail sector.
“With footfall in shopping centres rising by 225.2% and on high streets by +155.2% on the first day of trading, the sector can finally see a visible road to recovery after a difficult year.”