Business

Shoppers heed warnings and stay away from shops and retail parks

Streets, retail parks and shopping centres were largely deserted of shoppers in March

SHOPPER numbers across the UK were 83.1 per cent lower than Easter weekend last year and 14.5 per cent down on the same four days in the previous week, latest data from retail intelligence analysts Springboard reveals.

Despite the warm weather providing a clear temptation for leaving home, the latest figures show that the UK adhered to the government enforced lock down and stayed at home to save lives and protect the NHS.

Footfall did increase by 3.7 per cent on Saturday from the Saturday before, driven by increases from the week before in both coastal towns (up 14 per cent) and historic towns (9.5 per cent).

But on Monday there was a significant drop in footfall of 24.2 per cent from the previous Monday.

These results follow closely on from Springboard’s figures for March, which ended just a week prior to Easter.

It will be remembered as the month the UK went into lock down, with the closure of all stores but those selling the most essential of items.

The resulting impact on footfall in retail destinations inevitably was an unprecedented decline of 41.3 per cent over the month from March 2019.

The impact of the lock down was immediate and enormous. In the first two weeks of the month, before the lock down was implemented, footfall declined annually by an average of just 2.9 per cent, in the final three weeks the year on year drop averaged 61.5 per cent, reaching 81.4 per cent in the last week.

For retail parks the picture was a little more nuanced. The panic buying that ensued when people realised that lockdown was an increasingly likely prospect, meant that the drop in footfall experienced in the third week of the month in high streets and shopping centres didn't occur until the fourth week in retail parks, and even then the drop was around a third lower due to the need to shop for essentials.

In the last week of the month, the drop in footfall in retail parks was 15 per cent less than in high streets and shopping centres.

Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, said: “It's likely that even when we are in recovery, the psychological impact of the pandemic will linger with social distancing continuing to be the new normal for some time to come.

“If this were to be the case, retail parks and the space they offer will be a favoured destination for many. In the meantime, as lock down is likely to continue for some weeks yet, people will remember the role retail staff across grocery, pharmacy and every day essentials stores played in making it possible for families and households to continue to shop during such troubling times."

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