EDITORIAL USE ONLY People enjoying al fresco dining on Berwick Street, Soho as the neighbourhood welcomes back visitors. Picture date: Wednesday April 14, 2021. PA Photo. Artworks featured around the shopping district include two newly installed pink shimmer disk arches, a shimmering Union Jack flag and an installation by Kristjana Williams, which is dedicated to key workers. 30 brightly coloured tables have been installed with over 200 seats set up on Carnaby Street, Newburgh Street and Ganton Street for communal dining every day of the week. Photo credit should read: David Parry/PA Wire

Retail expert Springboard is forecasting that UK footfall will rise by 19.7% this week following ‘freedom day’, as Covid restrictions such as face coverings and social distancing are no longer mandatory in England.

While the removal of restrictions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will not be as comprehensive as they will be in England, the fact that footfall in England accounts for around 85% of all footfall in the UK, will drive an uplift in overall shopper activity.

Latest insight from Springboard reveals that footfall will peak over the course of the first weekend of freedom with rises of 32.2% on Friday 23 July and 39.5% on Saturday 24 July.


Over the course of the week, footfall across all UK retail destinations is anticipated to be only 20.1% below the same week in 2019, before the pandemic.

The magnitude of the increase in footfall is expected to vary across the three key retail destination types.

High streets will see an increase of 25% where footfall will be supported by the increased customer numbers that will be allowed in restaurants, coffee shops and pubs, due to the removal of social distancing measures that currently limit venue capacities.

However, with 74% of all footfall occurring between 6am and 5pm, and a further 16% between 5pm and 8pm it is the increased volume during daytime and early evening hours that will fuel this increase rather than night time footfall which is typically driven by nightclubs and bars.

In shopping centres, footfall is expected to rise by 18% over the week, the rise will be more modest as although home to hospitality outlets, they do not tend to have an active evening and late night economy.

The rise in footfall in retail parks is expected to be lowest at 10%, as customer numbers in these destinations have already bounced back to a greater extent that in the other two destination types.

The anticipated uplift following Phase 3 of the governments easing of restrictions is forecast to be significantly greater than the 1% rise that occurred when indoor hospitality reopened in May 2021 as Phase 2.

However, as retail stores are already trading and indoor hospitality is operational, footfall across the UK will not see the same rise of 87.8% which occurred during Phase 1 when non-essential retail reopened in April 2021, following the third lockdown.

Springboard highlights that ‘freedom day’ coincides with the end of the school year.

As summer holidays commence across the UK, footfall is expected to gain momentum as the week’s progress, particularly if the weather is warm and dry and many Brits enjoy a ‘summer staycation’.

Springboard forecasts a week-on-week rise of 8.1% on Monday 19 July to 39.5% on Saturday 24 July.

In high streets, with its plentiful offer of hospitality outlets, the gain in footfall on Saturday is expected to rise 52% from the week before and by 42% in shopping centres.

Commenting on the data, Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, commented: “The long awaited ‘freedom day’ on Monday will see footfall bounce back across the UK, to a more significant magnitude than when indoor hospitality reopened in May, with rises seen across all three retail destinations.

“With summer holiday commencing and many opting for a summer staycation in the UK, footfall will continue to rise throughout July and into August as many look to enjoy the good weather.”

She added: “Despite the removal of Covid restrictions, the recently increased infection rate is likely to make some shoppers more cautious about venturing out into what could be busy shopping environments.

“Additionally, many workers have not yet returned to their offices and are unlikely to do so full-time, which particularly impacts larger towns and cities where the volumes of footfall are greatest.”