Staycations and daycations help revive retail footfall as spending skyrockets

A woman carrying several shopping bags up the main shopping street in the city of Manchester, England. Photo: Daniel Harvey Gonzalez / In pictures via Getty Images

The UK summer holidays have helped boost footfall on main streets, bringing traffic to the highest levels since the pre-pandemic as people made the most of easing closures.

New data from Springboard’s Footfall Monitor showed foot traffic improved by about a quarter in August, from -24.2% in July to -18.6%, the deviation from level in 2019 attendance falling to less than -20% for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

However, it was still well below the levels observed in 2019. Attendance fell compared to 2019 by -23.5% in shopping streets, -24% in shopping centers and -2.4% in retail parks. The popularity of “staycations” and “daycations” has increased attendance, especially on the main streets.

Data from Barclaycard Payments also showed the company processed more transactions on Saturday August 28 and Sunday August 29 than on any date since Christmas Eve 2019.

Barclaycard Payments is the UK’s premier payment processor, processing £ 1 out of £ 3 spent on credit and debit cards.

Attendance in central London in August was -38% below 2019 levels, but it has strengthened significantly from -50.4% in July and is expected to continue to do so in September.

In large cities outside the capital, the improvement in ridership in August was almost double that of small main streets, putting them at a level comparable to 2019 for the first time.

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From Saturday 28 to Monday 30 August, all sectors combined, transaction volumes are up 14.4% compared to the same long weekend in 2020, and 9.4% compared to 2019.

In the leisure and entertainment sector, transaction volumes are up 37.2% compared to last year and 26.8% compared to 2019.

The food and beverage sector also experienced significant growth, with volumes up 20.3% year-on-year and 14.5% over two years.

Given that nothing untoward is happening and the restrictions are not being reinstated, it seems reasonable to expect that by the end of the year, attendance will be only 10-15% below the pre-pandemic level, Springboard said. Retailers will now look to the busy Christmas shopping season as traffic improves on main streets.

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