Sep 1, 2022
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Springboard flags tough times ahead after August footfall peaks in summer sun

Sep 1, 2022

We're about to wave goodbye to buoyant UK retail footfall numbers as the “anticipation of austerity due to the impending energy crunch set to hit households” looms, Springboard warned on Thursday.

Braving London's August heatwave - Image: Nigel Taylor

Summer’s swan song saw an unexpected turnaround in August as footfall strengthened across UK retail destinations to 13.2% below the 2019 pre-pandemic benchmark. That was against -14.2% in July, when it had weakened from -12.3% in June. 

Footfall last month strengthened in high streets to -15.1% and to -17.5% in shopping centres, but worsened in retail parks, albeit to only -4.5%. 

And it was mostly down to the continuous heat levels in August that encouraged staycations and fuelled activity in retail destinations, as many consumers took a much-longed-for and deferred summer holiday last month.

But the rise in temperatures to record levels during the middle of the month only had a localised and short-lived impact on footfall. The week-on-week change in high street footfall in the middle of the month averaged -3.8% versus an average increase of 2.6% over the first and last weeks. 

By contrast, shopping centres, which benefit from controlled temperatures, saw footfall only decline week on week by an average of -0.9% during the extreme heat in the middle of the month, and it rose over the first and fourth weeks by 0.5%. 

Springboard said it was expecting the traditional dip in footfall from August to September as schools go back, which has occurred every year since it began monitoring footfall data in 2009. It anticipates it will be at least equal to or even greater than the -3.3% recorded in September 2019 “as the euphoria of a hot and sunny summer ends and the anticipation of austerity awaits”. 

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