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UK retail footfall peaks in October

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Oxford Street
Central London footfall increased by 19.4%. Above, shoppers on Oxford Street. Photo: Henry Nicholls/Reuters

Retail footfall across the UK rose by 11.1% in the last week of October, compared with the week before — the largest increase in activity since the week before the late May bank holiday, new data has shown.

Shopping centres saw the greatest increase with a jump of 15.2% and high streets were also notably busier with a rise of 12.1%, according to the latest data from retail experts Springboard.

Retail parks also saw an increase, with footfall up 4.7%.

Over the five days from Monday to Friday the increase was even greater, at 5.5%, in line with the October half-term school holiday.

The half-term break meant that there was a greater rise in footfall in towns that are more attractive to visitors than in local high streets as consumers were more able to make trips further afield.

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Footfall in coastal towns shot up by 18.9%, while historic towns saw 12.6% more shoppers.

Central London footfall increased by 19.4% and regional cities outside of London experienced a rise 16.1% as shoppers took trips to the capital and other metropolises around the country.

"There were noticeable increases in footfall throughout the day from 11am onwards last week, and consumers were clearly taking the opportunity of the half term break to go out in the evening as the rise in high street footfall post 5pm was also significant,” said Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard.

High street footfall was up 16% between 11am and 5pm and rose by 12.7% after 5pm, compared to the week before.

Springboard's "Central London Back to Office Footfall Benchmark," which tracks footfall in key Central London locations where offices, rather than stores, are located, also showed a 13.5% increase, pointing to the continuing flow of workers back to offices after the lifting of coronavirus restrictions.

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Footfall was 34.8% higher than in the same week in 2020 when the UK was gripped by COVID-related restrictions. Retail footfall was still 10.9% lower than the same week in 2019 but the boost in footfall last week meant that the gap from 2019 narrowed compared to the week before from -15.3% across all retail destinations.

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