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High Street

Retail footfall drops 65.6% in first full month of third lockdown

According to Springboard, footfall declined by 72.6% in high streets a further 73.6% in shopping centres and 42.1% in retail parks

Retail footfall has declined 65.6% in January compared with a 41.9% drop in December, as the first full month of the third national lockdown comes to an end.

According to Springboard, footfall declined by 72.6% in high streets a further 73.6% in shopping centres and 42.1% in retail parks.

However, the drop in footfall has not been as severe as the 80.1% decline recorded in April 2020 which was the first full month of the first Lockdown.

The decline in footfall in January was reportedly a tenth less in high streets and shopping centres than in April 2020 but a third less in retail parks. The performance of high streets and shopping centres reflect the activity generated by health services such as dentists and opticians that are continuing to operate as “essential retail”.

Springboard said stronger footfall in retail parks reflects a degree of “lockdown fatigue” and pent up demand to shop, with parks attracting leisure-based trips in the absence of any other opportunity to shop. Springboard added this is the first indication of the potential for a “bounce back” in spending when non-essential retailers reopen once again.

The UK vacancy rate rose to 11.7% in January, from 11.3% in October 2020 and 9.8% in January 2020, demonstrating the longer term impact of the pandemic on bricks and mortar retail.

Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director, Springboard, said: “The fact that footfall on retail parks was stronger in January 2021 than in April 2020 is interesting as there is generally a greater uplift in retail park footfall in the Spring when many shoppers turn their attention to their gardens and homes.

“Stronger footfall in retail parks is synonymous with a degree of lockdown fatigue and pent up demand to get out of the house and shop, despite food store operators expanding their delivery capability.”

She added that shoppers are also clearly visiting retail parks for “leisure based trips” in the absence of “any other opportunity to shop” (particularly as drive-thru’s and coffee shops continue to offer take away and click and collect is operating).

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