Retail footfall improved in 2022, but pre-pandemic gap is "long-term trend"
Following an increasingly tough 2022 for UK retail, footfall this year won’t return to pre-pandemic levels and the gap from 2019 and will settle at between -5% and -10%. That’s according to retail experts Springboard, which has published its annual review for 2022.
So what happened last year? Springboard highlighted five key points.
It said the gap with pre-pandemic footfall remained “significant” as UK footfall stood at a reading of -14.2% over the January-December period, compared to 2019.
Consumer localism slowed the retail recovery in Central London, where footfall was 17.8% down on 2019 figures between May to December, although it has to be said that we've already heard from some retailers (notably Primark this week) that city centre footfall is recovering.
Springboard added that hybrid working hit high streets, where weekday footfall remained 18.2% below 2019 levels in 2022. Its quarterly Retail Consumer Survey identified an average of 55% of consumers working at home for at least some days each week, “with very little change in the extent of home working across the year”.
Additionally, online spending diminished, as the online share of clothes and footwear spending fell from pandemic peak of 65% to just 24.9% in December 2022. This could have both boosted and dented physical store footfall with the plus side being. The shoppers, were more likely to visit physical stores, but less likely to be picking up online orders there.
It also said resilient retail parks benefited from rail strikes and pandemic spending patterns as 2022 footfall in the sector was only 3.7% below 2019 levels.
Noting 2022 was the first full year of ‘normal’ retail trading conditions since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, the extent of the recovery in footfall over the 12 months was in line with Springboard’s forecast of a gap from the 2019 footfall level of between -10% and -15%.
Over the year as a whole, footfall across UK retail destinations was 14.2% below that of 2019, with a steady improvement from -20.8% in January 2022 to -10.9% in December.
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