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talking trade


City centres hit hardest as increased restrictions on hospitality slow footfall


Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, update Housewares Magazine on the latest trends in the retail marketplace


compared with -30.8% in August, which had previously improved from -39.4% in July. This was partly a consequence of the start of the school term, which led to footfall shifting downward from -25% in the first week of the month to -28.7% by the third week. However, this was then exacerbated by the introduction of greater restrictions on movement from the third week onwards, which meant that by the last week of September the decline in footfall reached -31.4%. The greatest impact has been felt by high


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streets, which is unsurprising given the concentration of hospitality here; in the second half of the month following the compulsory 10pm closure of hospitality outlets high street footfall moved downward from -34.3% to - 39.4% compared with a much more marginal decline in shopping centres (-32.6% to -33.7%) and an improvement in retail parks (-12.5% to -11.8%). Springboard Footfall Monitor and Insights UK September 2020 City centres hit hardest as increased


restrictions on hospitality slow footfall In fact, retail parks have consistently


outperformed high streets and shopping centres, and in September footfall during day time trading hours in retail parks was just 7.3% lower than in 2019. Inevitably the greatest impact on consumer activity of the increased government restrictions is during the evening - indeed this is exactly the desired policy outcome - with the decline in high street footfall post 8pm of - 44.7% and -42.1% between 5pm and 8pm compared with -30.7% between 9am and 5pm. This suggests that for many hospitality operators who are missing their second sitting and therefore losing a significant proportion of turnover, a way forward could be to bring forward dining times and encourage customers to eat earlier.


The earlier hospitality closure is a further challenge for large city centres in recovering lost footfall. Our data was the first to identify a far greater reduction in activity in large cities than in smaller high streets early on in the lockdown period as shoppers stayed local, and this is a trend that has been ongoing, with Central London being by far the hardest hit. In September, footfall in regional cities declined by


14 | housewareslive.net


ootfall continued to strengthen in September, although the improvement slowed, with footfall dropping by-28.2%


-35.8% (from -35% in August) and by -56.4% in Central London, versus just -24.2% in Outer London and -23.5% in market towns across the UK. This is the first conclusive evidence of the importance to local economies of the working population, and suggests that there could be a fundamental long term change in bricks and mortar retailing if working from home becomes an embedded long term trend. Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard commented: “Consumers appear to have adapted their behaviour to accommodate the 10pm closure of hospitality. Last week - the second full week since the introduction of the curfew – the overall UK result was marginal. “However, our data indicates that there appears to be a north-south divide in terms of night-time footfall bounce back, with southern areas of the UK recording rises in footfall post 11pm whilst there are noticeable declines in the Midlands and North where a number of towns have more severe restrictions in place. The exception to this is Scotland, where footfall rose post 11pm.


“The impending announcement from Boris Johnson later today of tiered restrictions across the UK, with more severe restrictions likely in the North, is likely to drive down footfall further in those areas facing the tightest rules around movement.”


Springboard is the leading provider of insights on bricks and mortar retail activity, tracking and forecasting footfall and delivering performance metrics across all key retail destination types at national and regional levels since 2002. Springboard has the most comprehensive


footfall data set in the UK using the latest generation automated technology, recording over 70 million footfall counts per week at 4,500 counting points across 480 different shopping sites in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Springboard is part of the Government High Street Task Force working to revitalise local high streets across the UK. Springboard’s footfall data is included in the ONS weekly statistical bulletin “Coronavirus and the latest indicators for the UK economy and society”.


At a glance


Footfall continued to strengthen in September, although the improvement slowed, dropping by -28.2%, compared with -30.8% in August, which had previously improved from -39.4% in July.


• Footfall declined by -34.6% in high streets, -31.5% in shopping centres and - 10.8% in retail parks.


• Footfall shifted downward from -25% in the first week of the month to -28.7% by the third week as the school term started, and by the last week footfall declined by - 31.4%, when greater restrictions on movement were introduced.


• The greatest impact of the introduction of the compulsory 10pm closure was felt by high streets, which has the majority of hospitality outlets, with footfall moving from -34.3% to -39.4% in the second half of the month.


• Retail parks have consistently outperformed high streets and shopping centres, with footfall during day time trading hours in September just 7.3% lower than in 2019.


• The greatest impact on consumer activity of the increased government restrictions is during the evening - high street footfall declined by -44.7% post 8pm and -42.1% between 5pm and 8pm, compared with - 30.7% between 9am and 5pm.


• Footfall in UK regional cities declined by - 35.8% in September and by -56.4% in Central London, versus just -24.2% in Outer London and -23.5% in market towns.


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October 2020


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