UK shopper numbers soar; footfall remains under pre-pandemic levels

06 May 2021

The number of visitors to retail destinations across the UK soared in April as non-essential stores were permitted to reopen.

Nevertheless, despite the surge in shopper numbers as lockdown restrictions eased, footfall last month stayed 32.7% lower than 2019’s pre-crisis levels.

The figure was up on the month before, however, when footfall was 55.2% lower than 2019, as per the most recent statistics from Springboard.

Analysts predict the difference in footfall between 2019 and 2021 will narrow further, City AM reports, but not revert to pre-pandemic numbers until workers return to offices and home and overseas tourism resumes in Britain.

In addition, recovery is reliant on unemployment levels when the furlough scheme comes to an end in September.

Last month, High Street footfall fell 41.5% compared to 2019, numbers declined 39% in shopping centres and 7.4% in retail parks.

Yet, there was a sharp difference in footfall week on week as stores were allowed to reopen their doors on 12 April.

Annual footfall decline on Britain’s High Streets edged down from 65% in the first week of the month to a fall of 32.3% between the second and fourth weeks.

According to Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle: “With the imminent opening of indoor hospitality in the next two weeks, we are anticipating that the gap between the level of footfall in 2019 and 2021 will narrow further, although the extent to which this occurs will be a function of the degree to which there is a return to office working, the growth in both domestic and overseas tourism in the UK and the impact on employment of the end of the furlough scheme in September.”