Footfall across UK retail destinations rose by 16% in February against the previous month, despite the continuation of lockdown and ongoing restrictions on non-essential retail.
According to Springboard’s latest footfall monitor, this marks the largest month-on-month increase for February since its footfall data first became available in 2009.
Footfall rose in all three destination types during the month, but the largest increase of +18% was seen in high streets, followed by retail parks (+16.7%) and shopping centres (+11.7%).
Diane Wehrle, Marketing and Insights director at Springboard, said this is “clear evidence” of a growing lockdown fatigue, with shoppers becoming increasingly keen to visit bricks and mortar destinations as a leisure activity, despite non-essential stores remaining closed until April 2021.
She said: “This is likely to be a combination of increased optimism following the announcement of the roadmap to reopening and the success of the vaccine programme, which reinforces Springboard’s forecast for a significant uplift in footfall in retail destinations of +47.9% in the first week of reopening on 12th April 2021.
“At the same time, however, the overall level of footfall in retail destinations is still only 39% of that in 2020, and we know that in the summer of 2020, when footfall peaked in August after reopening in June, it still remained 25% below the level in the year before.”
She added: “Even with increased consumer confidence generated by the success of the vaccine programme, retailers will have a significant amount of ground to make up if they are to recover to anywhere near pre-Covid levels, reinforcing the need for the High Street Restart Grants to support retailers announced by the Chancellor in the Budget.”
Nonetheless, the overall level of footfall in retail destinations is still only 39% of that in 2020, and when footfall peaked in August 2020 after reopening in June, it still remained 25% below the level in the year before.
According to Springboard, this indicates that retailers will have a significant amount of ground to make up to recover to anywhere near pre-Covid levels.