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UK footfall strengthens in June, but stagnates on postponement of ‘Freedom Day’

By Huw Hughes

8 Jul 2021

Retail

Image: FashionUnited

Footfall continued to strengthen in June following the further easing of lockdown restrictions, but it stagnated towards the end of the month when ‘Freedom Day’ was pushed back to July.

For the five-week period from May 31 to July 4, footfall across UK retail destinations was 22.2 percent below the pre-Covid 2019 level, the strongest result since the start of the pandemic.

It was also a marked improvement from the drop of 27.5 percent reported in May, according to the latest figures from footfall tracker Springboard.

The largest gains were made in high streets which continued to benefit from the reopening of indoor hospitality, and which improved by a third in June. Compared to 2019 levels, footfall dropped by 27.2 percent in high streets, 29.1 percent in shopping centres and 4.1 percent in retail parks.

That progress was largely made in the first half of the month, which included the early spring Bank Holiday when the weather was also hot and schools had their half term break. In that week, footfall across all destinations improved to -14.5 percent below the 2019 level from -26.8 percent the week before.

Footfall worsens in second half of June

But footfall then worsened in the second half of the month, falling incrementally each week. Springboard said that was “undoubtedly a reflection of the lack of impetus for consumers to shop” following the government’s announcement that ‘Freedom Day’ - the day when almost all remaining Covid restrictions are to be lifted - was postponed from June 21 until July 19.

This was further heightened by the continued restrictions and limitations on overseas travel, reducing shoppers’ desire to buy holiday outfits and other products.

“Moving into July, however, the opportunity for bricks and mortar retail to attract back consumers is significant,” Springboard said. “The removal of restrictions set for July 19 and the greater freedoms this offers - coinciding with the school summer holiday period - is likely to deliver a fresh incentive for consumers to visit bricks and mortar destinations.”