October footfall figures provide optimistic start to Christmas period
New figures have shown that retail footfall across the UK improved in October to 13.4% lower than in the same month in 2019 compared to a 17.4% decline in September.
The data from retail specialist Springboard reveals that footfall dropped by 15% in high streets and by 20% and 3.1% respectively in shopping centres and retail parks.
The final week of the month, which included half term, produced the best improvement by shifting the average from -14.3% over the first three weeks to -10.9% in the last week of the month.
The figures also show that UK city centre footfall improved in the month which, in the continued absence of overseas tourists, suggests that the drift back to the office is accelerating. In central London, footfall moved to -22.2% from -32.2% in September and in regional cities outside of the capital, it reached -15.7% from -19.3% in September.
Whilst footfall may be recovering, Springboard found that the shop vacancy rate remains high at 11.7%, which is only a very marginal improvement from July when it was 11.8%. However, Springboard said this was not a surprising given that the vacancy rate is both a lagged and sticky indicator.
Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, added: “The complexities of the leasing market and the heavy burden of business rates hinders the reoccupation of empty units whilst also often forcing unviable retailers to continue to trade, highlighting its limitations as the sole indicator for determining bricks and mortar retail performance.”
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