The summer holiday break in the UK helped boost footfall on high streets, bringing traffic to the highest levels since pre-pandemic as people made the most of lockdowns easing.
New data from Springboard's footfall monitor showed foot traffic improved in August by around a quarter from -24.2% in July to -18.6%, with the gap from the 2019 footfall level reducing to less than -20% for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
It was still some way below levels seen in 2019, however. Footfall declined from 2019 by -23.5% in high streets, -24% in shopping centres and -2.4% in retail parks. The popularity of "staycations" and "daycations" bolstered footfall, particularly in high streets.
Barclaycard Payments data also showed that the firm processed more transactions on both Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 August than on any date since Christmas Eve 2019.
Barclaycard Payments is the number one payments processor in the UK, processing £1 in every £3 spent on credit and debit cards.
Footfall in Central London in August was -38% below the 2019 level, but it strengthened considerably from -50.4% in July and is expected to continue to do so in September.
In large cities outside of the capital, the improvement in footfall in August was nearly double that in smaller high streets, putting them at a comparable level versus 2019 for the first time.
From Saturday 28th to Monday 30th August, across all sectors, transaction volumes were up 14.4% compared to the same long weekend in 2020, and up 9.4% compared to 2019.
In the leisure and entertainment sector, transaction volumes were up 37.2% compared to last year, and up 26.8% compared with 2019.
There was also significant growth in the food and drink sector, with volumes up 20.3% year-on-year, and 14.5% year-on-two-years
On the basis that nothing untoward occurs and restrictions are not put back in place, it appears to be a reasonable expectation that by the end of the year footfall will be just 10% to 15% below the pre-pandemic level, said Springboard. Retailers will now be looking to the busy Christmas shopping season as traffic improves on high streets.
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