Industry News

Footfall declines as workers stay away from office

The Central London "back to the office" benchmark, which tracks those areas of Central London closest to offices, declined by -15.2% and by -17.1% in regional city centres outside of the capital

Footfall declined by -6% last week across all UK destinations from the week before, but working from home continued to heavily influence footfall with footfall dropping by -25.6% in Central London, according to Springboard.

In comparison, local high streets experienced a far more modest decline from the week before; in market towns footfall declined by just -2.8% and in Outer London it rose by 2%.

However, Springboard said “it was clear that whilst the work from home guidance is still in place, some employees did venture into their offices” as the Central London “back to the office” benchmark, which tracks those areas of Central London closest to offices, declined by -15.2% and by -17.1% in regional city centres outside of the capital.

The overall -6% drop was driven predominantly by high streets with a -10.9% footfall drop and shopping centres with a -4.4% decline, whilst footfall rose by 2.9% in retail parks.

Footfall across all UK retail destinations last week remained “significantly lower” than in the same week in 2019 (-21.8%), but this substantial gap emanated from high streets and shopping centres -30.9% and -23.7% respectively whilst in retail parks footfall was just -0.2% below the 2019 level.

Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, said: “Somewhat inevitably – given that last week was the first return to work for many after the Christmas and New Year period, footfall declined from the week before.

“Indeed, this is a familiar result in the first week of the year, having occurred every year since 2011, and the magnitude of the drop in footfall last week was almost identical to that in the same week in 2019 and slightly lower than in the same week in 2020.”

She added: “However, the drop only occurred in high streets and shopping centres, whilst in retail parks footfall rose marginally from the week before which in part will have been driven by households replenishing groceries and household products.

“High streets bore the brunt of the drop in shopper activity, with the decline from the New Year week more than twice that in shopping centres, although to some degree shopping centre footfall may have been insulated by the great Christmas present return.”

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