18 May 2024, 21:07
By Furniture News Nov 08, 2021

October brings retail footfall boost

Springboard saw a noticeable improvement in retail footfall during October – to -13.4% lower Yo2Y, compared with -17.4% in September.

"This is hugely encouraging, and in line with Springboard’s forecast for Q4 of 2021," says Springboard's marketing and insights director, Diane Wehrle.

The final week of the month, which included the October school half term, was pivotal in boosting footfall, shifting the average from -14.3% over the first three weeks to-10.9% in the last week of the month.

In the final week of the month, it was high streets and shopping centres that benefited most, states Springboard – footfall in high streets strengthened from an average of -15.8% over the first three weeks to -12.1% in the last week, and in shopping centres footfall shifted from -21.5% over the first three weeks to -15.9%.

In contrast, in retail parks footfall in overall terms has bounced back far more to pre-Covid level, yet during half-term week the gain was more modest, from an average over the first three weeks of -3.2% to -2.7% in the last week of the month.

UK city centre footfall also improved in October, which in the continued absence of overseas tourists, suggests that the drift back to the office is accelerating, says Springboard. Footfall in Central London moved upward from -32.2% in September to -22.2% in October, and in regional cities outside of the capital, footfall in October reached -15.7% Yo2Y, from -19.3% in September.

"Whilst footfall is recovering, the vacancy rate remains high at 11.7%, which is only a very marginal improvement from July when it was 11.8%," says Diane. "This is despite the growth of pop-up stores, that are a typical feature of retail destinations in the run-up to Christmas, but which should be even more prevalent now given the greater availability of empty space.

"However, this is not a surprising outcome, as the vacancy rate is both a lagged and sticky indicator. The complexities of the leasing market and the heavy burden of business rates hinders the reoccupation of empty units whilst also often forcing unviable retailers to continue to trade, highlighting its limitations as the sole indicator for determining bricks-and-mortar retail performance."

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