Prospects for footfall over Easter 2023
Diane Wehrle, MRI Springboard’s Marketing and Insights Director sets out her forecast for footfall over Easter 2023.
Last week – two weeks ahead of Easter – footfall across all UK retail destinations declined from the week before last. However, with the recent significant disruption caused by the rail and other strikes it is more revealing to look at footfall over the past three weeks, and over this period it has remained virtually flat.
What is of more concern is that last week footfall across all UK retail destinations was lower than in the same week in 2022. This was the second time this has occurred in three weeks but only the third time there has been an annual decline since April 2021. This is a clear indicator that any gains made from week to week are too modest to drive a long term increase in footfall, and given that there was a year on year decline across all three key destination types, it suggests that the cost of living crisis is hampering growth in retail spending. This is reinforced further by the fact that there has been a double digit annual increase in only eight of the 33 weeks since August last year and in only five of the 12 weeks this year.
We are expecting that footfall will continue to plateau over this week as many consumers hold off from making shopping trips, saving days out for the week of Easter and the Easter weekend itself. MRI Springboard is forecasting that over the Easter weekend 2023 footfall will be +5.1% higher than over the same three trading days in the week before.
This forecast uplift is a contrast with Easter 2022 when footfall over the Easter weekend was -0.1% lower than the same days in the week before due to consumers making trips to retail destinations during Easter week but in advance of Good Friday. Over the period from Monday to Thursday leading up to Easter 2022 footfall rose from the week before by an average of +15% with a rise of +21.9% on Thursday and +27.3% in UK high streets. Footfall activity last year will have been heavily influenced by the fact that it was the first Easter without any Covid restrictions which encouraged consumers to make shopping trips early in the week so as to be able to socialise with family and friends over the Easter weekend.
Easter 2023 is more likely to follow long term trends in footfall over the bank holiday weekend recorded by MRI Springboard over the past 16 years. This trend typically shows increases in footfall from the week before on Good Friday and Easter Saturday with a drop on Easter Monday, reflecting the fact that many office-based employees are on leave and so not in their offices on that day.
In line with this, MRI Springboard is forecasting the largest week on week rise of +10.3% across all UK retail destinations on Good Friday, with a rise of +15% in UK high streets, followed by a rise across all UK destinations of +6.2% on Saturday and a drop in footfall of -3.4% on Easter Monday.
Over the Easter weekend as a whole, MRI Springboard is expecting the biggest rises in footfall to occur in UK high streets (+6.6%) as many towns feature Easter events designed to attract shoppers, and in UK retail parks (+5.1%) as many shoppers use the Easter weekend for home and garden improvements. A more modest rise in footfall of +2.5% from the previous week is forecast in UK shopping centres.
The week on week increases in footfall over Easter 2023 means that footfall will be +5.4% higher than over Easter 2022 which is not a huge gain from last year but reflects the downward trend in footfall over recent weeks due to rail and other strikes. Whilst the annual rise is forecast to be fairly modest, the good news is that over Easter 2023 the gap from the pre-pandemic footfall level is forecast to disappear, with a marginal rise of +0.1% from Easter 2019, all of which will be driven by Easter Saturday when footfall is forecast to be +5.5% higher than on Easter Saturday 2019.
Notes: Diane has over 30 years’ experience in retail and is regarded as one of the leading experts on retail and retail destinations, with an unparalleled knowledge and expertise in understanding current and emerging retail issues and consumer trends. Diane regularly commentates on the performance of retail for national broadcast and print media, appearing regularly on BBC, Sky News and Bloomberg. As a founding director of Springboard (established in 2002), Diane specialises in delivering intelligence and insights on both current retail performance and long term retail trends to retailers, hospitality occupiers, landlords, investors and place managers, and was recently named as one of the world’s 100 top retail influencers in 2023 by Rethink Retail for the third year running.