Shopper numbers set to surge as Covid restrictions ease

David Redford
July 19, 2021
(IFA Magazine)


Footfall across all retail destinations is expected to spike by nearly 20% following Monday’s lifting of Covid restrictions, according to research published by Springboard.
The retail consultancy expects footfall to rise 19.7% this week, after mandatory restrictions such as face coverings and social distancing were removed in England.

Footfall is forecast to grow throughout the week until it reaches a peak at the weekend, with rises predicted of 32.2% on Friday 23 July and 39.5% on Saturday 24 July. Over the course of the week, footfall across all UK destinations is anticipated to be just 20.1% below the same week in 2019.

Of the three types of retail destination, high streets are expected to see the biggest rise this week, with footfall forecast to jump 25%, boosted by an increase in the number of people allowed in pubs, restaurants and cafes at any one time.

In shopping centres footfall is expected to rise by 18%, and to increase by 10% in retail parks, where customer numbers have already bounced back to a greater extent.

Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, said: “The long-awaited ‘Freedom Day’ on Monday will see footfall bounce back across the UK, to a more significant magnitude that when indoor hospitality reopened in May.

“With the summer holidays commencing and many opting for a staycation in the UK, footfall will continue to rise throughout July and into August, as many look to enjoy the good weather.”

However, she acknowledged that the increasing infection rate would likely make some shoppers “more cautious” about venturing out.

The forecast came as Springboard posted data for the previous week, which showed an increase of just 0.9% week-on-week. High streets reported a 3.3% rise in footfall for the week beginning 11 July, but it fell 0.8% in retail parks and 2.2% in shopping centres.

Springboard attributed the sluggish performance to mixed weather, with footfall down at the start of week, when there was heavy rain, but improving as the week progressed and temperatures rose.

Monday saw the removal of all mandatory Covid restrictions in England. The removal of restrictions in the devolved home nations is not as comprehensive, but England accounts for around 85% of all footfall in the UK, Springboard said, and is therefore expected to drive the uplift in overall shopper activity.

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