Retail footfall surges over holiday weekend, suggests pent-up demand
There are big questions around how keen consumers will be to return to physical shops once non-essential UK stores reopen in the middle of June, but the indications so far are that there's plenty of pent-up demand.
A footfall report from specialist tracker Springboard on Tuesday said that high streets on bank holiday Monday saw a 49% increase in footfall compared to Easter Monday. It also said that retail parks saw a 42% rise on Saturday compared with Easter Saturday. And with the weather staying warm, footfall on Monday in coastal towns was up as much as 62% compared to Easter Monday, with a 59% rise in historic towns.
Shopping centres were the weakest destinations at the weekend, although they still rose, with a 22.7% increase compared to Easter Saturday and 29.2% compared to Easter Monday.
“The opening of non-essential shops on 15 June couldn't come soon enough, as footfall results from the bank holiday weekend suggest significant pent-up demand amongst consumers,” the company said.
The increase is perhaps not surprising given that Easter came at the peak of the pandemic when the lockdown was being rigorously enforced.
The largest rises compared with Easter were in England, where travel restrictions have been eased, with footfall on Saturday over 30% higher than Easter Saturday in all regions. But on Monday, footfall was more than 30% higher than on Easter Monday in every part of the UK, including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, where travel restrictions are still in place.
Diane Wehrle, Springboard’s Insights Director, said: “We anticipate that once stores open on 15 June – despite the rise in online shopping that has been recorded – the evident pent-up demand to go out amongst consumers will absolutely translate into footfall.”
But will this mean a spending boom? Perhaps not. Wehrle added that “an anticipated spending spike could possibly be short-lived, as consumers will be cautious and looking at reining-in their spend due to ongoing financial uncertainty in many UK households”.
And given that other attractions in retail locations, such as bars, restaurants and cafes could be slower to reopen, the attraction of a trip to the stores will be minimised.
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