UK high streets are still feeling the ongoing effects of the coronavirus lockdown with footfall figures for August 2-8 still remaining more than a third lower than in 2019, with a year-on-year decline last week of 34 percent.
The figures from retail footfall experts Springboard did show that footfall across all retail destinations throughout the UK rose by 3.8 percent for the week August 2-8 from the week before, boosted by the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.
Between Monday and Wednesday, during the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, footfall rose in retail destinations across the UK by 18.9 percent post 6pm versus a rise of 9.6 percent at lunchtime (12pm to 2pm).
The scheme benefitted smaller towns across the UK more, with market towns recording a rise in footfall of 25 percent, compared to the same three days in the week before, which was a third higher than the rise of 19.2 percent in regional cities.
In high streets, the footfall increased by 4.5 percent, while in shopping centres the rise was 3 percent and by 3.3 percent in retail parks.
Between Sunday and Wednesday the rise in footfall averaged at 8.2 percent, however, Springboard added that there was an element of distortion due to a rise in footfall of 20.6 percent on Monday in response to a decline of 8.9 percent in the week before due to heavy rain.
Eat Out to Help Out boosts footfall across the UK
On Tuesday and Wednesday footfall rose by an average of 2.6 percent which is actually less than half the rise of 5.9 percent over the same two days in the week before. Between Thursday and Saturday footfall declined marginally, by 0.5 percent, versus a rise of 4.5 percent on those three days in the previous week.
Whilst footfall across all UK retail destinations remains more than a third lower than in 2019, with a year-on-year decline last week of 34 percent, Springboard added that it has started a “positive trajectory” with rises across all three of the destination types.
The greatest upward shift occurred in high streets where footfall moved to a year-on-year decline of 40.2 percent from 44.3 percent in the previous week.
Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard said in a statement: “The jury is still out regarding the benefit of the "Eat Out to Help Out" scheme which launched last week, although there were rises in footfall on each day between Monday and Wednesday from the week before. It is clear that it was the post 6pm period that yielded the greatest rise in footfall, and also that smaller towns benefited more than large city centres.
“As the scheme continues throughout August and more Brits enjoy staycations across the UK, time will tell if the government scheme provides the boost that retail destinations across the country require for business survival.”