Jubilee week gives UK footfall a boost
Footfall was strong as expected in the seven days from 30 May up to 5 June in the UK as many Britons celebrated the Queen's platinum jubilee. The country also hosted a large number of visitors from abroad for the first time since before the pandemic.
The latest figures for retail footfall from Ipsos show that UK-wide visitor traffic was down only 5.9% compared to 2019 in the non-food sector. That's the narrowest deficit that has been seen since the beginning of the pandemic saw consumers less willing to visit physical stores even before the first lockdown was imposed in late March 2020.
Ipsos also said that towns outperformed cities by 15.3% points and the best-performing region was Northern England where store visits were down by only 2.2%.
As mentioned, across the country footfall was down only 5.9% against three years ago and compared to the previous week it was up 9.8%. Cities were down 14.6% against 2019 but up 9.6% on the week. And towns were actually up — albeit by only 0.7% — against the pre-pandemic period and rose 10.9% compared to the previous week.
Of course, this was an unusual week given that it included the half-term school holiday and two days at the end of the week that were public holidays, although many businesses (and especially retailers) continued to operate.
During the week, visits to high streets declined 8.3% compared to 2019 but rose 6.7% against the previous week. And shopping centres fell 12.3% against 2019 and rose 7.4% compared to the week before.
Retail parks were the clear winners across the period and were up a buoyant 6% against the same pre-pandemic week and rose as much as 15.7% against the previous seven days.
A report from Opinium and Vouchercodes had predicted that the four-day Jubilee weekend would deliver a boost of more than £6 billion to retail and hospitality businesses. And while the footfall figures hint that the optimism wasn't misplaced, we'll see from retail reports in the next few days and weeks whether the heavy spend actually happened.