There was a noticeable improvement in footfall during October according to Springboard’s monthly monitor, to -13.4% lower than in 2019 compared with -17.4% in September. In the four weeks from 3 October to 30 October, footfall declined from 2019 by -15% in high streets, -20% in shopping centres and -3.1% in retail parks.

The final week of the month, which included the October school half term, was pivotal in boosting footfall, shifting the average from -14.3% over the first three weeks to -10.9% in the last week of the month.

High streets and shopping centres benefited most in the final week. Footfall in high streets strengthenedfrom -15.8% over the first three weeks to -12.1% in the last week, and in shopping centres footfall shifted from -21.5% over the first three weeks to -15.9%. In contrast, footfall in retail parks in overall terms has bounced back far more to pre-Covid levels. However, during half term week the gain was more modest, from an average over the first three weeks of -3.2% to -2.7% in the last week of the month.

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UK city centre footfall also improved in October which, in the continued absence of overseas tourists, suggests that the drift back to the office is accelerating. Footfall in central London moved upwards from -32.2% in September to -22.2% in October, and in regional cities outside of the capital, footfall in October reached -15.7% below the 2019 level from -19.3% in September.

“Whilst footfall is recovering, the vacancy rate remains high at 11.7% which is only a very marginal improvement from July when it was 11.8%”

Diane Wehrle, marketing & insights director of Springboard

Diane Wehrle, marketing & insights director of Springboard, commented: “Whilst footfall is recovering, the vacancy rate remains high at 11.7% which is only a very marginal improvement from July when it was 11.8%. This is despite the growth of pop-up stores that are a typical feature of retail destinations in the run-up to Christmas, but which should be even more prevalent now given the greater availability of empty space.”

Springboard tracks and forecasts footfall to retail locations across the UK, recording more than 70 million footfall counts per week at 4,500 counting points across 480 different shopping sites in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

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