With a gap of -20.7% from the 2019 level, footfall in February strengthened marginally from January when it was -20.8% below 2019, according to Springboard.
This was driven by a month on month increase of +9.1% which was the largest single monthly uplift since June 2021 and nearly three times as great as the increase from September to October, before the Omicron variant hit.
In the weeks before and after the storms, footfall averaged -18.5% below 2019 and, in the absence of the extreme weather in the third week of the month when footfall dropped to -26.3% below 2019 and to -34.7% in high streets, Springboard said “it is likely that the overall result for the month would have been circa -18%”.
The uplift in February 2022 is a reverse of the result in six of the nine years up to and including 2019 when the annual change in footfall in February worsened from January despite the occurrence of the school half term, “offering a source of optimism for retailers in what remains a retail landscape that is impacted to some degree by Covid”.
Footfall in Central London and in cities outside London was -31.9% and -29.8% below the 2019 level respectively in February, versus -27.3% in market towns and -20.2% in outer London which have consistently been more resilient in retaining footfall as people work from home.
Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, said: “February appeared to represent a sweet spot in terms of returning footfall, with consumers’ confidence riding high on the back of the removal of Covid restrictions.
“However, the concern for retailers over the coming months must be the likely impact on spending of rising household energy prices and fuel costs.”