While the annual result for UK retail destinations is still down 25 per cent, this is the best year-on-year change since the begging of the lockdown.

While retailers, such as Primark owners Associated British Foods said that strong trading in their stores was ‘reassuring and encouraging’, flagship and larger stores in major cities and shopping destinations have seen a downturn, which is suggested is due to the lack of tourists.

Of the retail destination types, it was only on high streets, where many offices and workspaces are located, where footfall rose from the previous week (by 2.6 per cent), in comparison to retail parks (-0.9 per cent) and shopping centres (-2.7 per cent).

The figures suggest that the return to work has begun, albeit slowly. The suggestion is supported by the figures for the four working days after the Bank Holiday Monday, when footfall peaked in the UK’s high streets by 0.5 per cent from the previous week, compared to declines of -3.4 per cent in retail parks, and -3.2 per cent in shopping centres across the UK.

In Greater London, where there is much more office employment than in anywhere else in the country, high street footfall rose by 5.3 per cent from the previous week, the largest increase in the whole of the UK.

There was a week-on-week increase in footfall in seven out of ten UK regions, but following from Greater London were 4.1 per cent increases in footfall in the West Midlands and 4.7 per cent in the East Midlands.

However, footfall in retail parks only saw an increase from the week before in three UK regions, and footfall in shopping centres declined in all regions except for Greater London, where it saw a 3.5 per cent rise.

Even with the improvement in high street footfall, Springboard pointed out that it is important to appreciate the scale of the shift needed to recover the decline in activity that has occurred, with footfall in Greater London’s high streets remaining -40.9 per cent lower than last year, -51.9 per cent lower in Central London and -39.5 per cent lower in the UK regional cities. 

Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, commented: “The week of August Bank Holiday Monday, which for many households represented the first week that children returned to school, led to a modest rise in footfall across all UK retail destinations. Last week’s result was enough to continue the trend of recovery, delivering the best YoY result since the start of the lockdown in March.”

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