December and 2022 footfall figures continue to close pandemic gap in UK
It's one of the frustrations of reporting on the UK retail sector that footfall reports coming out from different sources often contradict each other. However, the reports coming out about December footfall seem to be in agreement – it really wasn't too bad.
On Thursday, Springboard talked of strong December visitor traffic to retail destinations and on Friday, BRC-Sensormatic IQ supported that view.
BRC Chief Executive Helen Dickinson said footfall was at its highest level since the start of the pandemic in December, despite rail disruption and the cold snap keeping many shoppers from visiting town centres and high streets in the last week before Christmas. But postal strikes did force others to head in for the last week to secure last minute gifts in-store.
The BRC said the five weeks from 27 November to 31 December 2022 saw footfall that was down only 7.3%, compared to three years ago, which was six percentage points better than in November, and also better than the three-month average decline of 10.2%.
The report also said that total UK footfall last year was only 11.8% below pre-pandemic levels, a big improvement on 2021 when footfall remained down 33.2% on the pre-Covid period.
Looking back at December specifically, high street footfall, declined 9.3% against three years ago, while retail parks were down only 5.2% compared to the last buoyant December before the global health crisis hit. Shopping centre footfall was down a heftier 19.9%, however.
It seems Northern Ireland saw the shallowest footfall decline of all UK nations and regions at 3%, followed by England at 8.7% and Wales at 9.6%. Scotland saw the steepest decline at 9.9%.
On a one-year basis, total footfall increased by 15.1% with high streets up 19.7% and shopping centres up 13.4%. Retail parks were down, but only by 1.6%.
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