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Storm Eunice curtails footfall rise

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Storm Eunice “heavily impacted” footfall across the UK, with a -3.8% decline from the week before and drops in all three destination types, according to retail experts Springboard.

However, it said the distortion created by the weather meant that the result between Sunday and Thursday was “wholly different from Friday and Saturday”; over the five days from Sunday, footfall rose by an average of +5.5% with a huge uplift of +18.1% on Monday as the school half-term break commenced.

On Friday, footfall declined from the previous week by -32% and then by -12.6% on Saturday. In high streets, the results were even more extreme, with a drop of -36.6% on Friday and -17.9% on Saturday.

The regional results reflect the impact of the storms, with only Greater London, Scotland and Northern Ireland recording increases in footfall, and even these were all less than +1%.

The largest drops in footfall occurred in Wales (-9.7%), the South West (-7.8%), the South East (-5.7%) and North & Yorkshire (-5%).

Trips out at the beginning of what was the half-term week led to noticeable increases in footfall in Central London, regional cities and historic towns across the UK between Monday and Thursday, averaging +16.2%, +10.8% and +10.7% respectively.

This was in sharp contrast to a drop in footfall over these four days of -1.3% in market towns across the UK and a rise of just +2% in Outer London.

The drop in footfall from the week before meant that the gap from 2019 widened to -26.3% last week from -21.2% in the week before, with the uplift from 2021 diminishing to +122.4% from +149%.

Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, said: “Unsurprisingly, footfall across UK retail destinations last week was majorly affected by the severe storms, which negated the positive impact of the start of the February school half-term break.

“Storm Eunice landed on Friday and led to significant declines in footfall on both Friday and Saturday. Prior to that Storm Dudley had hit UK shores on Wednesday, but in overall terms this had a more minor impact on footfall.”

She added: “Inevitably high streets felt the greatest effects of the weather, with a slightly stronger result in shopping centres – the vast majority of which offer shelter from the elements – and in retail parks which are easy to access by car.”

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