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Feb 4, 2021
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January dreadful, but expect spending bounce-back when stores reopen - Springboard

Feb 4, 2021

Despite some awful retail footfall figures for January, lockdown fatigue and pent-up desire to go non-essential shopping is simmering. So expect a bounce-back when the world of retail reopens fully. That's the positive message from Springboard on Thursday.

Photo: Springboard

The retail analysts' observation is based on retail park performance, where footfall was stronger in January than in April last year, boosted by an earlier-than-usual pre-spring uplift as many shoppers turned their attention to their gardens and homes.

“Shoppers are clearly visiting retail parks for leisure-based trips in the absence of any other opportunity to shop”, said Diane Wehrle, Marketing & Insights director for Springboard. “This is the first indication of the potential for a bounce-back in spending when non-essential retailers reopen once again”.

But there's no disguising just how dreadful football numbers for January were. Overall UK footfall declined sharply last month to -65.6% year-on-year - the first full month of Lockdown 3 - versus -41.9% in December.

Footfall declined by 72.6% in high streets, 73.6% in shopping centres and by 42.1% in retail parks.

However, the drop in footfall hasn't been as severe as the decline of 80.1% recorded last April, the first full month of Lockdown 1. To put it another way, the decline in footfall in January 2021 was a 10th less in high streets and shopping centres than in April 2020 and a third less in retail parks.

Springboard also noted that the performance of high streets and shopping centres reflects the activity generated by health services such as dentists and opticians that are continuing to operate.

Meanwhile, its latest figures also show UK store vacancy rate rose to 11.7% in January from 11.3% in October 2020 and 9.8% in January 2020, “demonstrating the longer-term impact of the pandemic on bricks and mortar retail”.

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