Weekend footfall slumped as shoppers worried about Omicron variant
New data has revealed that although retail footfall rose by 5.5% last week from the prior seven days, the number of visits to retail destinations during the pre-Christmas weekend was disappointing.
According to figures from retail footfall specialist Springboard, there was a sharp drop from a 15.6% increase on Tuesday to week-on-week growth of just 2.6% on Friday. This was then followed by a poorer performance over the weekend when footfall rose by only 0.8% on Saturday and dropped by 1.4% on Sunday.
Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, said: “Despite the introduction of Plan B guidance to work from home and the significant rise in Covid infections, footfall rose last week across UK retail destinations. However, the growing nervousness of consumers meant that increases dwindled with each day that passed, and by Friday the uplift in footfall was around just a quarter of that on Wednesday.”
Springboard’s data shows that large city centres were impacted most by worries about the Omicron variant, with footfall over the weekend declining by 8.5% in Central London and by 6.4% in cities outside of the capital. This meant that in high streets across the UK footfall declined by 2.6% over the two days. Market towns fared better with an increase of 3.4%.
Wehrle said: “The nervousness of shoppers about making in-person shopping visits inevitably meant that large city centres lost out to smaller high streets, particularly over the weekend when footfall declined from the week before in Central London and large cities outside of the capital whilst rising in market towns.”
Looking at the different types of shopping destination, the figures show an uplift of 0.5% in shopping centres at the weekend, but retail parks were by far the most popular with a rise of 4.7% as shoppers sought out Covid friendly spaces with large stores that could easily be reached by car.
The week’s figures meant that footfall was 19.1% lower than in the same week in 2019 with the gap widening from -17.7% in the week before. However, in contrast with 2020 the picture actually improved with footfall last week being 22.5% higher than in the same week last year compared with 18.1% growth the week before.
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