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Easter weekend retail footfall drops by 83 percent

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

15 Apr 2020

Brits avoided the temptation of a Bank Holiday heatwave by staying at home, following Government guidance during the coronavirus outbreak, resulting in what the retail industry is calling an “unforgettable” Easter weekend as footfall dropped by 83 percent in comparison to 2019.

Latest data from retail intelligence experts Springboard reveals that footfall across UK retail bricks and mortar destinations was also 14.5 percent lower than over the same four days in the previous week.

Footfall did increase by 3.7 percent on Saturday from the Saturday before, driven by increases from the week before in both coastal towns (+14 percent) and historic towns (+9.5 percent). However, on Monday there was a significant drop in footfall of 24.2 percent from the previous Monday, most probably aided by the much cooler weather, added Springboard.

The results follow closely on from Springboard’s figures for the month of March, which ended just a week prior to Easter. March 2020 it said will “forever be remembered as the month that the UK went into lockdown”, with the closure of all stores aside from those selling the most essential of items. The resulting impact on footfall in retail destinations inevitably was an unprecedented decline of -41.3 percent over the month from March 2019.

UK lockdown due to Covid-19 has had an “immediate and enormous” effect on retail footfall

The impact of the lockdown has been “immediate and enormous,” added Springboard, in first two weeks of March, before the lockdown was implemented, footfall declined annually by an average of just -2.9 percent, in the final three weeks the year-on-year drop averaged -61.5 percent, reaching -81.4 percent in the last week.

For retail parks the picture was a “little more nuanced” as the panic buying that ensued when people realised that lockdown was an increasingly likely prospect, meant that the drop in footfall experienced in the third week of the month in high streets and shopping centres didn't occur until the fourth week in retail parks, and even then the drop was around a third lower due to the need to shop for essentials.

In the last week of March, the drop in footfall in retail parks was 15 percent less than in high streets and shopping centres.

Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard said in a statement: “It is likely that even when we are in recovery, the psychological impact of the pandemic will linger with social distancing continuing to be the new normal for some time to come. If this were to be the case, retail parks and the space they offer will be a favoured destination for many.

“In the meantime, as lockdown is likely to continue for some weeks yet, Britons will remember the role retail staff across grocery, pharmacy and every day essentials stores played in March 2020 and beyond in keeping it possible for families and households to continue to shop during such troubling times.”

Image: FashionUnited