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Christmas boost sees retail footfall edge closer to pre-pandemic levels

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Footfall across all retail destinations rose by 4.1% in a week for the seven days to November 21, and is now just 12.4% lower than the same period in pre-pandemic 2019, and the gap is narrowing week by week.

High street traffic grew fastest, up by 6.2%, nearly double the rise of 3.3% in shopping centres, which remain most affected by a drop in footfall in comparison to 2019.

Central London footfall increased by 8.3% last week and regional cities outside of the capital by 11.4%, suggesting shoppers gravitated to larger destinations where Christmas festivities have commenced.

“The beginning of the Christmas trading period began in earnest in many retail destinations last week, and it had an increasingly positive impact on shopper activity, ahead of Black Friday,” described Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, which compiles the footfall data.

She went on: “In contrast with the week before when footfall rose at the weekend following the switch on of Christmas lights in a number of destinations, last week footfall rose from the previous week on every day apart from Sunday when it was flat from the week before.

“Across the week as a whole, the increase in footfall last week was nearly three times that of the week before.

“High streets led the charge — undoubtedly supported by Christmas lights being switched on in town centres across the UK — with an uplift in footfall that was virtually double that in shopping centres.

“Shoppers were clearly gravitating to larger towns and cities in order to soak up the Christmas atmosphere as, whilst there were significant rises across all types of town centre, there were with particularly large increases in Central London and city centres outside of the capital.

“Footfall in retail parks rose modestly, however, it shifted into positive territory from a decline last week from the week before,” she concluded.

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