Differing restrictions across UK nations evident in latest footfall results, Springboard reports

Latest data from retail experts Springboard reveals that footfall declined by -1.2% across all UK retail destinations last week from the week before, which was only around a third of the week on week decline of -3.1% in the previous week.  Virtually all of this drop was driven by high streets, where footfall declined by -3% compared with a very modest drop of -0.1% in shopping centres and a rise in footfall of +1.3% in retail parks.

By far the most modest decline in footfall of -0.9% from the week before occurred in England, whilst in Scotland it dropped by -2.7%, by -3.8% in Wales and by -12.2% in Northern Ireland.  In Northern Ireland, as across the UK as a whole, it was in high streets that footfall was most impacted with a decline of -15.5% versus just -2.6% in shopping centres and a rise of +1.5% in retail parks.  High street footfall in Northern Ireland was impacted across the entire day, but more severely in the period post 5pm when it dropped by -29.7% versus -15.3% in Wales, -9.9% in Scotland and by an average of -2.1% across England’s regions.

In Wales, footfall over the week declined by -3.8%, however, the entirety of this decline occurred on Saturday when the firebreak came into effect resulting in a week on week drop on that one day of -66.3%, a huge contrast to the average rise over the previous six days of +9.7%.  This meant that the drop in footfall on an annual basis in Wales moved from an average of -33.3% over the first six days of the week to -76.6% on Saturday, which is the greatest annual drop in footfall in Wales on a single day since 6th June. 

Over the week as a whole, the annual decline in footfall across the UK reached -32.9% last week, with the largest drops in the devolved nations (-40.3% in Wales, -40.1% in Northern Ireland and -38.2% in Scotland).

Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, commented: “The range of additional restrictions that came into effect at the end of last week have not yet had a noticeable impact on footfall in retail destinations generally across the UK.  However, with the exception of Wales which entered a fire break for 17 days, retail stores are continuing to trade which together with fact that the restrictions commenced on Saturday – the last day of the week period – mitigated the impact on the week as a whole. 

However, in different parts of the UK the situation was more nuanced, with far greater declines in footfall in the devolved nations than in England, and differences in performance from nation to nation reflecting the introduction of restrictions. The greatest decline in footfall occurred in Northern Ireland, which was impacted across the day, but particularly post 5pm as hospitality closed their doors on Saturday.  In Wales footfall plummeted on Saturday, the first day of the closure of non-essential retail stores, resulting in a year on year decline on that one day that was equivalent of the drop in footfall during the lock down. 

The appeal of retail parks to shoppers with their ease of access by car, free parking, open air environments and large stores alongside the presence of a food store in the majority is once again being demonstrated, with increases in footfall from the week before in this destination type across all four UK nations.”

Week 43 (wb 18th October 2020)
 Year on year % change in footfallWeek on week % change in footfall
UK High Streets-41.3%-3.0%
UK Retail Parks-11.6%1.3%
UK Shopping Centres-35.7%-0.1%
All UK Destinations-32.9%-1.2%
Year on year % change in footfall – Week 43 (wb 18th October 2020)
 UKEnglandWalesScotlandNorthern Ireland
High Streets-41.3%-40.6%-43.7%-50.3%-46.5%
Retail Parks-11.6%-10.8%-25.8%-9.3%-16.5%
Shopping Centres-35.7%-35.1%-47.0%-40.8%-20.9%
All Destinations-32.9%-32.1%-40.3%-38.2%-40.1%
Week on week  % change in footfall – Week 43 (wb 18th October 2020)
 UKEnglandWalesScotlandNorthern Ireland
High Streets-3.0%-2.4%-5.3%-5.7%-15.5%
Retail Parks1.3%1.3%2.4%0.9%1.5%
Shopping Centres-0.1%0.1%-6.5%0.1%-2.6%
All Destinations-1.2%-0.9%-3.8%-2.7%-12.2%
Week on week % change in footfall – Week 43 (wb 18th October 2020)
 9am to 5pm5pm to midnight
England regions (average)-2.1%-2.1%
Northern Ireland-14.7%-29.7%