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    Rain, snow impact footfall

    A general view of the Clock Tower on Regent Street in the Kingswood constituency, on February 10, 2024 in Kingswood, Gloucestershire. (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)

    Heavy rain and snow across some parts of the UK led to a slump in footfall last week. Footfall dropped -7.9 per cent on high streets compared to 2023 levels, as shoppers avoided making trips and many office workers opted to work from home. Across all UK retail destinations, year on year footfall was down -5.2 per cent .

    According to last week’s data by MRI, footfall declined by -2.1 per cent last week in all retail destinations from the week before led by a drop almost double the national benchmark in high streets (-4.4 per cent ), followed by marginal rises in shopping centres (+0.1 per cent ) and retail parks (+0.6 per cent ).

    Many office workers chose to work from home where possible, with weather conditions deterring many from commuting into offices. MRI Software’s Central London ‘Back to the Office’ benchmark showed that footfall was -9.0 per cent down on 2023. Footfall was also hit across regional cities excluding London, as year on year footfall dipped -7.5 per cent .

    The week started relatively strong with footfall rising week on week by an average of +1.3 per cent from Sunday to Wednesday with peaks in activity on Monday (+4 per cent ), Wednesday (+5.6 per cent ) and Saturday (+1 per cent ). As snow and heavy rain swept across the UK on Thursday, footfall was impacted regionally and across all town types with high street activity sitting -24.7 per cent lower than the week before. Retail parks and shopping centres also witnessed a decline in footfall on this day however it was much less severe at -6.2 per cent and -11.1 per cent , respectively, reinforcing their resiliency.

    Last week’s -5.2 per cent year on year decline across all retail destinations was almost five times higher than in the week before last when footfall fell by -1.8 per cent from 2023. High streets witnessed the most significant decline of -7.9 per cent , followed by less severe declines in shopping centres (-4 per cent ) and only a marginal drop in retail parks (-0.7 per cent )

    As we head into the half term holiday across parts of the UK, it is anticipated that retail destinations will benefit from a boost in footfall, in line with historical trends.

    Jenni Matthews, marketing and insights director at MRI Software, said, “Following three consecutive weeks of footfall rising in retail destinations across the UK, last week saw a decline from the week before ahead of what will be the half term holiday across parts of the UK. This was predominantly led by a decline in activity on Thursday when the UK was hit with snow and heavy rain which led to travel disruptions and likely prompted many to work from home where possible.

    “The week revealed mixed footfall trends with increases recorded on only three out of the seven days last week and declines interspersed on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. The impact of the weather affected footfall levels nationwide with all regions and town types witnessing a drop in footfall from the week before. Most regions witnessed double digit declines on Thursday with some sitting almost a quarter lower when compared with the same day in the week before.

    “This ultimately led to footfall sitting lower than 2023 levels in all retail destinations; almost five times lower than in the week before last. This was predominantly led by high streets, followed by shopping centres and a marginal drop in retail parks.”

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