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Return to office boosts UK retail footfall

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·2-min read
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Return to office boosts UK retail footfall. Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty
Footfall in central London was up by 6.5%, as workers return to offices after the lifting of coronavirus restrictions. Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty

Last week UK retail footfall rose by 2.7% compared with the week before, new data has shown. 

Data provider Springboard's weekly monitor showed that footfall in central London was up by 6.5%, as workers return to offices after the lifting of coronavirus restrictions.

Springboard's "Central London Back to Office Footfall Benchmark," which tracks footfall in key Central London locations where offices, rather than stores, are located, showed a rise of 8.8%.

Across the Monday to Friday working week, footfall rose in high streets by 6.7% but dropped by 1.5% on Saturday, whilst in shopping centres the rise in footfall averaged 3% between Monday and Friday but rose by 0.4% on Saturday, further supporting the claim that a return to offices has started.

The drift back to offices is not just a phenomenon in the capital, with large city centres outside of London experiencing a 6.1% increase in footfall, the report said.

However, in both outer London and in market towns across the UK, footfall rose by just 1.5%.

The greatest overall increases occurred in high streets, with a rise of 3.7%, a "significant improvement" from the same week in 2019 when footfall was down 6.3%. 

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Shopping centres saw an increase of 2.3%, whilst footfall increased by 0.9% in retail parks.

Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard said: “Footfall in UK retail destinations last week rose last week from the week before, which is the first rise in the past four weeks and a particularly positive result as footfall declined in the same week in both 2019 and 2020. 

"Footfall rose in all three destination types, but by far the greatest uplift occurred in high streets, where the increase was a third higher than in shopping centres and four times as great as that in retail parks.

"High street footfall was undoubtedly supported by a shift back to the office, demonstrated by a greater uplift from the week before in central London and large city centres outside of the capital, than in smaller high streets and in outer London. In areas of central London with a large proportion of office rather than retail space, footfall rose by more than in central London as a whole."

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