London leads the way but UK footfall growth is slow in wet May - Springboard
UK consumers may be back spending but the pace isn’t electric as demand for hospitality in particular lagged last month, according to Springboard’s footfall overview for the period covering 2-29 May.
However, the “drift” back into larger destinations for work or leisure is at least boosting footfall in cities, and particularly in Central London.
But overall, while footfall has “strengthened’ since non-essential retail opened in April, further gains following the reopening of indoor hospitality in May were described as “muted". It had been hoped that the reopening on cafes and bars would lure more consumers to retail locations. In fact, overall footfall last month was -27.5% lower than in pre-pandemic 2019, compared with -32.7% in April.
But it wasn’t simply down to lack of demand. The report cited wet weather across much of the month and limitations on dining capacity.
In fact, the gap in footfall from 2019 to 2021 widened over the month, from -25.3% in the first week of May to -26.8% by the last week. By destination, footfall declined from 2019 by -36.3% in high streets, -30.3% in shopping centres and -5.7% in retail parks.
That said, the “drift” back into larger destinations in May for work or leisure saw footfall rise 17.2% on the previous month in Central London and in regional cities elsewhere in the UK by 20.4%. That compares with a rise across all UK high streets from April of just 7.1%.
Unfortunately, this seems to have come at a cost for smaller high streets, with footfall declining marginally by 0.7% from April in both market towns and high streets in Outer London.
"However, this must be regarded in context as footfall in Central London remains 58% lower than in 2019 and 33.7% lower in regional cities outside of the capital, versus -23% in high streets in Outer London and -28.6% in market towns”, said Springboard.
Also, the report noted that the increasing shift of footfall back into London and other regional cities will be strongly dependent on whether the government’s roadmap for the easing of restrictions will proceed as planned or whether easing will be deferred beyond 21 June.
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