Retail footfall continued to strengthen in September, narrowing the gap from 2019 to -17.4%, down from -18.6% in August, countering the downward trend in footfall often recorded in September.
The month also saw a 20% increase on September 2020 levels.
Springboard said that this month’s results go against the long-term footfall trend for September, which traditionally is a month in which footfall levels off or declines from the year before as schools go back and spending for the festive period yet to start.
September benefitted from the bank holiday, which boosted high street footfall due to the
popularity of daycations and staycations.
Footfall improved upon 2020 by 21.3% in high streets, 12% in shopping centres and 4.7% in retail parks.
The improvement in narrowing the gap to 2019 emanated from high streets and shopping centres, and it was only in retail parks where customer activity worsened.
The gap in high streets narrowed to -20.3% in September from -23.5% in August. Over the two weeks that spanned the bank holiday weekend, high street footfall improved to -19.1% below 2019 versus -26.3% in the week before.
The long term impact of online in both reducing in-store browsing and in shifting some spending away from stores, meant that footfall declined by around -1.5% per annum over the past decade.
Springboard analysis suggests that regardless of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is “likely that retail footfall would have declined by -3% from 2019, and by circa -4% in high streets, implying that the true impact of Covid on footfall is around -14% to -16%”.
The combination of employees returning to office working for at least part of the week, together with the beginnings of the return of overseas tourists, will add further support to footfall in retail stores and destinations as we near the Christmas trading period.
In Q4, Springboard is anticipating a “continued and steady increase” in the return of employees to office working for at least part of the week together with the beginnings of the return of overseas tourists. The combination will add further support to footfall in retail stores and destinations as we near the Christmas trading period.