UK footfall continues to improve despite mandatory face coverings in retail, Springboard reports

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Latest data from retail experts Springboard reveals that footfall across all UK retail destinations rose over the week by +4.4%, a similar rise to the week before when footfall rose by +4.5%. In England footfall rose by +4% versus +6.4% in Scotland; but in Northern Ireland and Wales, where face coverings are not mandatory in stores, the rise in footfall was higher at +9.4% and +8.7% respectively.

On Friday and Saturday, the first two days where face coverings in England became mandatory in retail stores, footfall in retail destinations declined by an average of -1.7%. England was the only nation where footfall declined on these two days, rising by an average of +2.7% in Wales and +1.8% in Northern Ireland.  However, in Scotland which is the only other nation where face coverings are mandatory, footfall rose by an average of +5.3% on Friday and Saturday, which suggests that others factors are likely to have come into play. 

One of these factors is likely to have been the heavy rain on Saturday which was widespread across the UK.  In high streets, which are exposed to the elements, footfall declined  by -7.7% from the previous Saturday, whilst it rose in both shopping centres where it is enclosed and in retail parks, where it is easy to access stores directly (by +0.3% in shopping centres and by +2.9% in retail parks).

Performance on an annual basis continues to improve, albeit in small increments;  footfall across all retail destinations remains 38.4% lower than in 2019, but once again this is the best result since the lockdown, moving from -40.2% in the week before last.

Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, commented: “Last week delivered another first – the first time that wearing a face covering became mandatory in retail stores and enclosed destinations in England. The first few days of the latest government guidelines has not yet delivered conclusive evidence of its impact on activity in bricks and mortar destinations, however it is positive news for retailers that the annual performance is continuing to improve.”

Week on week  % change in footfall [19-25 July 2020]
 UKEnglandWalesScotlandNorthern Ireland
All Destinations4.4%4.0%8.7%6.4%9.4%
High Streets5.2%4.7%11.4%6.5%11.1%
Retail Parks2.4%2.2%6.8%2.1%1.0%
Shopping Centres4.8%4.3%5.1%10.4%4.3%
Year on year % change in footfall
 UKEnglandWalesScotlandNorthern Ireland
All Destinations-38.4%-38.7%-33.6%-37.8%-29.9%
High Streets-45.7%-46.2%-45.8%-43.9%-33.2%
Retail Parks-19.9%-20.4%6.8%-18.4%1.0%
Shopping Centres-40.9%-40.8%-47.2%-43.6%-19.9%
Week on week % change in footfall – all destinations – Friday and Saturday
 EnglandWalesScotlandNorthern Ireland
Fri 24/07/2020-0.2%1.7%5.9%2.0%
Sat 25/07/2020-3.2%3.8%4.6%-0.2%
Week on week % change in footfall – high streets – Friday and Saturday
 EnglandWalesScotlandNorthern Ireland
Fri 24/07/2020-0.1%-1.1%11.7%4.4%
Sat 25/07/2020-7.7%3.9%1.9%-0.7%
Week on week % change – retail parks – Friday and Saturday
 EnglandWalesScotlandNorthern Ireland
Fri 24/07/2020-1.1%7.7%-3.5%-0.6%
Sat 25/07/20202.9%-0.2%4.7%11.4%
Week on week % change – shopping centres – Friday and Saturday
 EnglandWalesScotlandNorthern Ireland
Fri 24/07/20200.4%1.5%3.1%-5.0%
Sat 25/07/20200.3%7.3%10.2%1.2%