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    Warmer weather boosts footfall

    (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

    Warmer weather and bank holiday boosted footfall across the country in the past weeks, shows a recent report, bringing optimism for retail as major events including the Euros 2024, Glastonbury, and even Taylor Swift’s Eras tour arriving in the UK also likely to further boost the trend.

    According to MRI Software reports, footfall in UK retail destinations rose by +3.7 per cent in May from April mainly driven by a boost in high streets (+5.1 per cent) and retail parks (+3.6 per cent), and a marginal rise in shopping centres (+0.8 per cent).

    This boost in activity is the greatest month on month rise seen since May 2021 (+6.8 per cent), while much of the UK was still going through a recovery period from the pandemic, which is encouraging news for retail destinations.

    The first half of the month is likely to be where all of the gains were made as the early May bank holiday coupled with much warmer weather provided the perfect backdrop for people heading out, particularly to high streets where footfall rose week on week by an average of +3.7 per cent in the first two weeks of the month.

    Even the rail strike action, which occurred in the second week of the month, appears to be subsiding. Despite disruptions occurring throughout the week, footfall continued to rise both week on week (+4.1 per cent) and year on year (+7 per cent) in high streets.

    Retail park footfall remained relatively steady throughout the month aside from the boost observed in the first week (+3 per cent) of the month however shopping centres experienced marginal week on week declines in footfall for the final three weeks averaging -0.7 per cent.

    The first week of the month, driven mainly by a boost in the latter part of the week as shoppers looked to stock up on groceries and bank holiday essentials, is likely to have contributed to the overall month on month rise for shopping centres and retail parks.

    Another positive trend identified throughout May is that weekend footfall rose by +2.1 per cent compared to 2023 levels which may well have been boosted by the bank holiday weekend and warmer weather. However, weekday footfall declined by -1.7 per cent which could be an indicator of the rail strike action coupled with adverse weather conditions as the month progressed.

    While May saw strong footfall performance in comparison to April, the year on year trends saw a marginal dip. This was anticipated due to the three bank holidays which occurred last year including the King’s Coronation.

    Looking ahead, there is much optimism for the retail and hospitality sector with major events including the Euros 2024, Glastonbury, and even Taylor Swift’s Eras tour arriving in the UK likely to boost footfall in various locations across the country.

    Recent reports from GFK also revealed an improvement in consumer confidence which was largely driven by people feeling confident about their personal finances, increasing by 15 points when compared against this time last year. With a general election imminent and a heavy focus on revitalising the high street, only time will tell how election campaigns will impact retailer and consumer confidence in the coming weeks.

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