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Shopper numbers shrink for fourth week in a row as tiered restrictions hamper retail recovery

PUBLISHED: 09:48 20 October 2020 | UPDATED: 10:08 20 October 2020

East Anglian shoppers are continuing to turn their backs on the high street, with numbers down both year-on-year and week-on-week  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

East Anglian shoppers are continuing to turn their backs on the high street, with numbers down both year-on-year and week-on-week Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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The fragile recovery of East Anglia’s shopping meccas has taken another battering as the effects of the pandemic continue to be felt.

Post 6pm high street footfall is particularly badly hit by the pandemic, according to Springboard's latest figures  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNPost 6pm high street footfall is particularly badly hit by the pandemic, according to Springboard's latest figures Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

With large parts of the country subject to heavier restrictions, and hospitality closing at 10pm everywhere except Wales, post 6pm footfall was particularly badly affected, according to retail experts Springboard.

Week-on-week, East Anglian towns saw a -3.1% fall in footfall across the board between Sunday, October 11, and Sunday, October 18 – and year-on-year, shopper numbers were -27.9% down on where they were in 2019, it said.

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Shopping centres in the region took the biggest hit at -4.8% compared to the previous week – -34.2% down year-on-year. High streets saw a -3% dip in weekly footfall and were down -31.1% on last year.

Even retail parks are failing to attract shoppers in the same numbers with -14.3% fewer than the same time last year and -1.5% down on the previous week.

Nationally, it was inevitably locked-down areas which took the biggest hit – but across all UK towns, footfall was -3.1% down on average.

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Annual footfall result for all UK retail destinations plummeted to -32.3% compared to -30.9% the previous week.

Larger cities continue to be hit hardest by the increased restrictions, with footfall in regional cities declining by -5.7% compared to -2.1% in market towns and -1.2% in coastal towns.

Nationally, footfall in high streets and shopping centres is now 40% and 34.6% lower than last year respectively, but in retail parks the gap from last year remains far more modest at -13.2%.

Springboard’s insights director Diane Wehrle said the additional Covid tiered restrictions had an immediate impact on footfall in retail destinations with an across the board week on week decline. It marked the fourth consecutive drop and was also greater than that in previous weeks, she said.

“The drop in footfall was equally severe across all three destination types, although on an annual basis retail parks continue to remain by far the most resilient. Notwithstanding this, the year on year decline in footfall in all three destination types accelerated once again, with the largest gap between this year and last year for nine weeks,” she said.

“Somewhat inevitably, given the advice for people to work from home and the increased restrictions on travel, footfall regional cities declined by significantly more than in smaller towns around the UK. The drop in footfall in regional cities outside central London was twice that in the capital, undoubtedly a function of the fact that footfall has already declined in central London by far more than elsewhere. It is also no surprise that the drop in footfall in the north and Yorkshire region was more severe than in any other area of the UK.”


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