Damp conditions take edge off reopenings as footfall dips

Footfall across UK high streets and shopping destinations has sagged despite the latest easing of lockdown restrictions.

Early figures from research specialists Springboard have shown that high street footfall fell by 1.6% by 5pm on Monday, against the same period a week ago, as poor weather kept many people at home.

Hospitality venues have reopened indoor areas for the first time in almost five months, while cinemas, museums and other leisure venues have also welcomed customers in again.

The latest figures showed that total footfall across all retail hotspots, including retail parks and shopping centres, was down 3%.

However, footfall in central London jumped by 1.3%, while “historic UK towns” saw a 3.4% improvement, Springboard said.

The New West End Company said that footfall for London’s West End, as of 3pm on Monday, was up 3% week on week.

The group added that it anticipates this will increase further towards the latter  half of the week and predicts a particularly strong weekend.

Jace Tyrrell, chief executive of the New West End Company, said: “We’re further encouraged by increasing consumer confidence, and pent-up demand from office workers desperate to get back to their workplaces – changes that we feel confident will boost footfall and spending potential for those businesses.”

Pub bosses have hailed the reopening of indoor areas, stressing the importance amid a period of inclement weather for large parts of the country.

Jonathan Neame, chief executive of Shepherd Neame pub group, said it was “big step forward”.

The chief of the company, which runs more than 300 pubs in London and the South East, said he was particularly optimistic about the future of the capital.

“It has been a really tough year but this feels like a really positive step for the City and workers here,” he said.

“It isn’t over. June 21 will still be key but hopefully people coming in, sitting down for a meal, for a drink, will be another little positive.”