A blog by Diane Wehrle, Springboard’s Marketing and Insights Director

 

Springboard is forecasting that UK footfall will rise by +19.7% in the week following “Freedom Day”, the day that all Covid restrictions are removed in England.  Whilst the removal of restrictions in the other three nations will not be as comprehensive as they will be in England, the fact that footfall in England accounts for around 85% of all footfall in the UK will drive an uplift in overall shopper activity.

The magnitude of the increase in footfall is expected to vary across the three key retail destination types; from just +10% in retail parks to +25% in high streets where increased activity will be fuelled by the increased customer numbers that will be allowed in restaurants, coffee shops and pubs.  In shopping centres, footfall is expected to rise by +18% over the week, which also host hospitality outlets, but which do not have as significant an offer as high streets and which do not tend to have an active evening and late-night economy.  The rise in footfall in retail parks is expected to be much more modest, at +10%, as customer numbers in these destinations have already bounced back to a greater extent that in the other two destination types.

The uplift in footfall from the week before is forecast to be significantly greater than the +1% rise that occurred when indoor hospitality reopened in May 2021, however, as stores are already trading, and indoor hospitality is operational – albeit with a limit on capacity – the increase in footfall from the week before is anticipated to be much lower than the rise of +87.8% in the week beginning 11th April 2021 when non-essential retail stores reopened after Lockdown 3.

Other factors that are likely to dampen the uplift in footfall during the first non-restricted week are that it coincides with the end of the school year and so many families will already be away on holiday, the increased infection rate is likely to make some shoppers more cautious about venturing out into what could be busy shopping environments, and many workers have not yet returned to their offices which particularly impacts larger towns and cities the volumes of footfall are greatest.

These factors will also result in the rise in footfall from the week before gaining momentum as the week progresses, particularly if the weather is warm and dry; moving from a forecast week on week rise +8.1% on Monday 19th July to +39.5% on Saturday 24th July.  In high streets, with its plentiful offer of hospitality outlets, the gain in footfall on Saturday is expected to reach +52% from the week before and by +42% in shopping centres.