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UK footfall falls, but signs emerge of workers returning to offices

By Huw Hughes

13 Sep 2021

Retail

Image: Pexels

While UK footfall dropped 4.2 percent last week compared to the week before, there were signs the shift of workers going back to the office has commenced, new data reveals.

The drop in footfall across all retail destinations meant the gap from the 2019 footfall level widened to -17.3 percent from -15.8 percent the week before.

The week’s biggest drop occurred in shopping centres where footfall fell 7.7 percent compared to the prior week, according to data analytics company Springboard.

Meanwhile, retail parks saw a decline of 4.7 percent and high streets dropped by 2.2 percent.

Footfall dropped by 10.4 percent in coastal towns, but rose in both market towns and in Outer London by 2.6 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

And despite footfall as a whole in Central London dropping by 7.8 percent, another figure suggested the shift of workers back to the office may have begun.

Springboard’s ‘Central London Back to Office Footfall Benchmark’, which tracks footfall in key Central London locations where offices are located, showed a rise in footfall of 4.2 percent.

“Although it is evident that the vast majority of employees are continuing to work from home, it seems that the drift back to offices might have commenced,” said Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle in a statement.

“If any evidence is required as to the relevance of footfall as an indicator of consumer activity it was provided by the results for last week; the commencement of the school term and the return to work of those who had been on holiday led to a decline in footfall across all retail destinations last week from the week before, with a far greater drop in activity in coastal towns which had been visited by many for 'staycations' and 'daycations' over the summer.”