Posted: Mon 19th Apr 2021
The number of people visiting retail destinations across the UK increased by 87.8% last week, the first full week since the reopening of non-essential shops in England and Wales and outdoor hospitality in England.
The week-on-week rise is part of the latest statistics from retail data firm Springboard. It showed that visits to High Streets rose 93.2%, footfall to shopping centres was up 126.6% and for retail parks the figure was 35.3%.
While footfall showed significant growth on the week, it was still 25.4% down on pre-pandemic levels in 2019. High Street visits were 34.9% down compared to two years ago.
Springboard remain positive though, pointing out that the uplift last week means that the gap in footfall from 2019 narrowed by more than a half in a single week, reaching the level achieved after two months of trading following the first lockdown in 2020.
At +120.4%, Central London saw the biggest uplift in footfall last week although that was still 59.3% down on 2019. The capital's shopping districts have been the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Footfall in regional cities elsewhere in the UK rose 116%, 49.1% less than in 2019.
Markets towns are catching up faster on footfall figures two years ago. Visits were up 103.1% last week, 19.5% down on 2019.
Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, 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. However, the reopening of indoor hospitality [in England] on 17 May will provide a further boost to retail destinations as many indoor venues are located in high streets and shopping centres."
Enterprise Nation is supporting the return of physical independent retail with the Hello, World campaign. A pop-up shop filled with small businesses opens on 3 May at 58 Oxford Street in London.
Speaking about the store to BBC News, Enterprise Nation founder Emma Jones said:
"While online selling is brilliant, some smaller brands tend to find it difficult to get the traction they need online and compete with larger brands.
"We think, going forward, retailers will develop a hybrid form of selling which might see them trading via their own website, on marketplaces like Amazon as well as on the High Street via pop-ups, all at the same time."
While the retail figures are positive and many hospitality businesses that have been able to open outdoors in England are enjoying bumper visitor numbers, hospitality groups today called for the business rates holiday to be extended for at least another three months.
According to figures from CGA and AlixPartners, only a quarter of licensed premises reopened for trading last week.
In a joint statement, hospitality trade bodies UK Hospitality, British Beer and Pub Association and British Institute of Innkeeping said the sector has "a long and rocky road to recovery". It warned that even when coronavirus restrictions are fully lifted in England on 21 June, hospitality businesses will only be achieving 80% of the turnover seen in 2019.
The statement continued:
"Whilst government support over the pandemic has been welcomed, the vast majority of our members have not yet been paid their Restart Grants, funding for which was delivered to Local Authorities over two weeks ago. Their businesses are teetering on the edge of survival and they will now be facing their business rates becoming due on 1 July, with potentially only one full week of restriction free trading under their belts.
"For many, this will be the last straw, jeopardising the jobs that have been protected by the furlough scheme until this point. We need to see a full cancellation of business rates until at least October 2021 to allow them the breathing space to recover their businesses."
Hello, World is Enterprise Nation's campaign to help businesses reopen and reconnect with customers in physical locations. Get involved.