Rain beats back East’s high street recovery as holidays in full swing
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021
Footfall has crept up across East of England towns as the summer holiday gets into full swing — but still remains drastically below pre-pandemic levels, a study shows.
The latest figures from retail analysts Springboard show that week-on-week shopper numbers rose in the East of England in line with the national average of 1.4% in the week beginning August 1.
Regional numbers were still 16.4% adrift of where they were in the same week in 2019 — but unsurprisingly were markedly better — 21.6% higher year-on-year — than in 2020 as pandemic concerns started to rise again.
UK high streets saw activity nearly double week-on-week with a 2.6% rise in shoppers during the first week of August while shopping centres saw a more modest uplift of 1%. Retail parks across the UK saw a slight dip in numbers of 0.6%.
Consumers took the opportunity of the holidays to travel further to shops giving central London a 6.1% rise in footfall as a result.
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Market towns benefited from a 2.2% rise reflecting the continuing beneficial effect of home working on local high streets. Regional cities outside of the capital saw a more modest rise of 0.7% week-on-week.
But footfall across the UK was still a fifth lower (20.1%) than in 2019.
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Weather was a factor, said Springboard, with footfall at its strongest during the first half of the week when rain was less persistent but dropped in the second half of the week when there were heavier downpours.
Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard said: “With the school summer holiday period in full swing, footfall across UK retail destinations continued to improve last week. In overall terms it was a modest uplift from the week before. However, footfall rose in high streets for the fifth consecutive week for the first time since June 2020 suggesting an underlying strengthening of customer activity.
“High streets were undoubtedly supported by staycations, as in both coastal towns and Central London — the focus for many day and holiday trips — footfall rose by more than in local high streets despite the rain.”
The Springboard figures showed that in the first week of August, retail park footfall was nearly on a par with pre-pandemic levels at just 1.9% down. But high streets and shopping centres still have a long way to go to reach “normal” levels. UK high street footfall was 26.2% down while shopping centres suffered a 24.8% drop.