Footfall improves as Christmas lights are switched on in city centres

Footfall improves as Christmas lights are switched on in city centres

Footfall in UK retail destinations rose by +1.5% last week from the week before, though performance varied between retail parks – where footfall declined by -1.1% – and high streets and shopping centres, where footfall rose by +2.5% and +1.7% respectively, according to the latest data from Springboard.

Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle
Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle

There was also a clear differentiation between the Monday to Friday period – when footfall declined by an average of -1.4% – and the first and last days of the week, when footfall rose by an average of +8% on Sunday and Saturday.

And in high streets and shopping centres, the rise in footfall on Saturday – following the switch on of Christmas lights in many cities on Friday – was even greater, reaching +11.7% in high streets and +10% in shopping centres, while in retail parks the rise was far more modest at +3.2%. 

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Footfall in central London rose by 1% last week. However, with the widespread switch on taking place on Saturday, the benefit to footfall will be seen more clearly this week. However, in regional cities outside the capital – where lights were switched on on Friday – footfall rose by +4.7% compared with just +1.4% in market towns.

Despite these early signs of the start of Christmas trading, footfall still has ground to make up as the gap from the 2019 level widened to -14.8% versus -13.4% in the week before last. In high streets, the gap from 2019 last week was -16.5% (-15.1% in the week before last) and in shopping centres it was -22% (-20.7% in the week before last). Retail parks remain the most resilient of the three destination types with a gap from the 2019 level of just-3.5% last week. However, the drop in footfall from the week before meant that this nearly doubled from -1.9% in the week before last.

“With Christmas lights being switched on in a number of city centres at the end of last week, last week might have provided an early indicator of the anticipation of shoppers for visiting retail destinations over the Christmas trading period”

Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle

Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle commented: “With Christmas lights being switched on in a number of city centres at the end of last week, last week might have provided an early indicator of the anticipation of shoppers for visiting retail destinations over the Christmas trading period. 

“Whilst footfall declined marginally between Monday and Friday last week, the week was bookended with marked increases from the week before on both Sunday and Saturday: the two days when shoppers are more readily able to make leisure trips to retail destinations. In addition, it was high streets and shopping centres – where Christmas events and decorations tend to be in the greatest abundance, rather than retail parks – that benefited from the greatest uplift in shopper activity.”

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