Visits to UK shops jumped by 88% in the first week after non-essential stores were allowed to reopen, a survey showed.
The biggest increase was at shopping centres where footfall rose 127% from a week earlier followed by high streets where visits were up 93%, Springboard said. Footfall at retail parks, which have been busier than other categories during lockdowns, rose 35%.
The busiest day was Monday 12 April, when all stores were allowed to reopen, with a 152% increase. Tuesday had the smallest increase – 70% – and visits rose 117% on Saturday. Retail footfall is 25% lower than the 2019 pre-pandemic level with activity just 2% lower in retail parks.
Central London had the biggest jump as shopping trips rose 120% and regional cities had a 116% increase. The gap between today and 2019 is still large, though with London down 59% and regional cities down 40%. Outer London high streets and market towns have held up much better.
Diane Wehrle, Springboard’s insights director, said: “The first week of reopening delivered an outstanding performance for UK retail destinations and stores, with an increase in footfall from the week before that was virtually double our forecast. These results provide concrete evidence of the desire of shoppers to return to bricks and mortar stores and destinations.
“The key issue for retail destinations will be whether this momentum can be sustained. From our evidence of the last two lockdowns, we are expecting footfall to continue to increase over the next few weeks, albeit at a lesser rate.”
Wehrle said the reopening of indoor hospitality such as restaurants on 17 May would be a further boost to retail stores because many venues are on high streets and in shopping centres.