Sunny weather boosts footfall across region's towns

Shoppers out in Gentleman's Walk in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Shopper footfall across East Anglia's towns and cities rose by nearly 6% in the last full week of March, Springboard figures show - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2022

Shopper numbers in East Anglia's towns and cities are still down on pre-pandemic times - but are continuing to recover, new figures show.

Retail analysts Springboard said footfall across the region was up 5.9% week-on-week during the last full week of March.

That compared to an average of 7.8% weekly rise across the UK. However, the region's high streets and retail spaces are showing a stronger recovery than other parts of the UK, it found.

While the East's retail footfall was 12.2% down on the same week in pre-pandemic 2019  - but that's less severe than the UK average which stands at 15.7% down.

Across the UK, coastal towns saw the biggest rise in numbers (16.6%) as a result of the good weather, Springboard said. Market towns saw a week-on-week rise of 11.5% and Greater London footfall increased by 12%.

UK high streets were the biggest beneficiary (9.8%) of the weather boost, followed by retail parks (5.8%) and shopping centres (5.5%).

Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle said: “Last Wednesday (March 23) marked two years since the beginning of the first lockdown and delivered positive news for UK retail destinations last week, which was helped by warm and sunny weather across the UK which lasted the entire week.

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"Not only did footfall rise significantly from the week before across UK retail destinations as a whole, but there were strong rises in each of the three destination types. As is typically the case when we benefit from good weather, high streets benefited most with a week on week increase that was nearly double that in shopping centres and retail parks.

"There were rises every day in high streets and retail parks, and on five of the seven days in shopping centres.

"The increase in footfall last week was comprehensive; all UK geographies recorded uplifts in footfall from the week before, with the strongest rise in the South-West which dovetails with a double digit rise in footfall in coastal and market towns. The good weather appeared to also encourage employees into their offices, as footfall rose in large city centres with an increase in Springboard's Central London "Back to the Office" benchmark that was a third larger than across Central London as a whole.

"However, despite the strong uplift in footfall last week, the gap from the 2019 - pre-pandemic - footfall level widened slightly in shopping centres and retail parks, only narrowing marginally in high streets.”