Footfall rises 3.3% but ‘pingdemic’ slows growth

Footfall rose by 16.5% on "freedom day" itself, but from Tuesday onwards the uplift from the week before averaged just 1.7%

Footfall across UK retail destinations rose by 3.3% last week from the week before, however the hot weather and cautiousness around the ‘pingdemic’ slowed growth throughout the week.

According to the latest figures from Springboard, footfall rose in all three destination types, but it revealed that the 4.1% increase in shopping centres versus the 3.3% in high streets “may well be a consequence of shoppers seeking a respite from the extremely hot weather in covered environments”.

Footfall rose by 16.5% on “freedom day” itself, but from Tuesday onwards the uplift from the week before averaged just 1.7%.

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Springboard added that the end of the school summer term on Tuesday and the “nervousness” amongst shoppers created by the pingdemic was evident in the results.

Footfall in coastal towns – where shoppers naturally gravitate when the weather is hot and sunny – was much stronger than in high streets generally with a rise of 11% from the week before.

This is further demonstrated by a decline in footfall in Greater London of -0.7%, contrasting with rises of 5.4% in the South West and 6.5% in the East, both of which have long expanses of coastline.

The impact of the heat on customer activity was also evident by a rise in footfall of 12.8% post 8pm – when the weather had cooled a little – versus 2.8% pre 8pm.

The overall results for the week left the gap in footfall from the 2019 level “largely unchanged” at – 23.3% across UK retail destinations versus -24.9% in the previous week.

However, the 10.8% uplift in footfall in retail parks on freedom day itself – whilst more modest than in high streets and shopping centres (19.4% and 15.9%) on that day – was enough to close the gap from 2019 completely, reaching 0.4% above the pre-pandemic level.

Diane Wehrle, insights director, said: “Following an above average start to the week as a result of “Freedom Day” on Monday 19 July, the growth in footfall in UK retail destinations slowed considerably from Tuesday onwards.

“This is likely to be driven by a combination of the extreme heat, the start of the school summer break, and an increased nervousness amongst shoppers in visiting potentially crowded areas created by the growing ‘pingdemic’ which could force them to self-isolate.”

She added: “This is demonstrated by a proportionately greater rise in footfall in coastal towns, and also in the evening post 8pm, when it was cooler but which is the period of the day that accounts for the smallest proportion of footfall and when the vast majority of stores are closed with only hospitality outlets trading.”

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