UK shopper numbers up 0.9% last week on weather boost

FILE PHOTO: Shoppers carry bags in London
FILE PHOTO: Shoppers carry bags in London, Britain August 25, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall/File Photo

July 19, 2021

LONDON (Reuters) – Shopper numbers across Britain rose 0.9% in the week to July 17 compared with the previous week, boosted by the return of sunny weather, researcher Springboard said on Monday.

It said the overall increase in shopper numbers, or footfall, was driven by a 3.3% rise in high street shopper traffic, which more than offset declines of 0.8% and 2.2% in retail parks and shopping centres respectively.

“There was a glimmer of hope for the hospitality industry, as the most gains in footfall were made post 5 p.m. as shoppers took the opportunity provided by hot weather to enjoy hospitality venues,” said Diane Wehrle, Springboard’s insights director.

High street footfall post 5 p.m. rose by 9.8% from the week before compared with 1.9% up to 5 p.m.

Springboard said overall UK footfall was down 24.9% compared with the same week in 2019, before the pandemic started to disrupt traffic.

The pandemic has hammered Britain’s retailers, already struggling with high rents and business taxes, tight margins and online competition. Hundreds of store closures and thousands of job losses have been announced.

Springboard forecast that shopper numbers will rise by nearly one fifth this week versus the previous week thanks to the lifting of most remaining COVID-19 restrictions in England on Monday.

(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Kate Holton, William Maclean)