Strikes and cold hammer high streets

By Finn Scott-Delany

- Last updated on GMT

Rail strikes and cold snap hammer high street footfall

Related tags Strike action Industrial action Springboard High street

Rail strikes and the cold snap hit high street footfall last week, according to new data from Springboard.

Between December 11 and 17, footfall on high streets dropped by 10.2% from the previous week.

As disrupted transport and poor weather drove people from the high streets, retail parks and shopping centres benefited.

Shopping centres showed a 0.8% increase in weekly footfall from the previous seven days and there was a 1.6% at retail parks.

Overall, the rail strikes and freezing temperatures resulted in a 4.6% decline in shoppers during that period.

Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, said: “Some of this footfall migrated to retail parks and shopping centres, with both recording rises from the week before — albeit modest — versus a significant drop in footfall in high streets.”

Rail strikes on Tuesday and Wednesday resulted in a 31% decline in footfall in central London compared with a week prior. Meanwhile, in large cities outside the capital, footfall on Tuesday and Wednesday declined by 20.7%, and in historic towns it dropped by 18.7%.

Wehrle said: “Across the range of towns and cities central London, with its proportionately greater reliance on public transport and a significant working population, was by far the hardest hit.” She added that this was followed by historic towns “where narrow roads would have resulted in significant congestion deterring some visitors who weren’t able to arrive by rail”.

She added it was evident that many customers shopped locally last week as there was 'only a modest drop in footfall in market towns'.

Shopper numbers on high streets are yet to fully return to their pre- pandemic levels despite the removal of Covid restrictions. There was a 22.6% decline in footfall on high streets compared with the same week in 2019.

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