High Street

Springboard warns of ‘calm before the storm’ as March footfall improves

It predicts that an incoming reduction in disposable income will curtail retail spending over the coming months, exacerbated by the demand from consumers for summer holidays

Footfall strengthened noticeably in March to -15.3% below 2019, a bounce from -20.7% in February 2022, according to Springboard.

Footfall improved in all three destination types, but high streets “particularly” benefited with an improvement of around a third to -17.4% below 2019 from -26.2% in February, overtaking shopping centres where footfall remained -21.4% below 2019, and retail parks remained at -4.2% below.

However, Springboard has warned that the strong uplift in footfall in March is “likely to only offer some short term good news for retailers in the face of increased energy and fuel
prices and the concomitant rise in inflation”.

It predicts that the incoming reduction in disposable income will curtail retail spending over the coming months, exacerbated by the demand from consumers for summer holidays.

Furthermore, Springboard said that the longer term challenge for physical retail destinations is hybrid home/office working that now appears to have become widely adopted, which is “constraining the recovery in footfall and will continue to do so”.

It reports that the net Covid impact on footfall to date, is therefore circa -12%.

Insights director, Diane Wehrle, said: “Despite the strong uplift in footfall in March, this is likely to be the calm before the storm, only offering some short term good news for retailers.

“With the substantial increase in energy and fuel prices, consumers are aware that increased costs are on the horizon but have not fully hit and so are already being relatively cautious, and the concomitant rise in inflation that is forecast over the forthcoming months will put household budgets under increasing pressure.”

She added: “Inevitably this will mean less disposable income and so some retail spending will be curtailed, particularly as we enter the summer period when many consumers will be looking to reserve a budget to spend on much longed for summer holidays.”

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