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Footfall across UK retail destinations remains significantly lower than before the pandemic but improved steadily throughout 2022, a new report has revealed.

Springboard’s annual report showed 2022 footfall was 14.2% below the 2019 level, with a steady improvement from -20.8% in January to -10.9% in December.

Footfall on the high street was -16.9% below pre-pandemic levels and -18.8% down at shopping centres, while retail parks saw levels down just -3.7%.

However, the uplift from 2021 varied significantly due to comparisons against periods of lockdown, with footfall in the four months to April 2022 up +104.4% year on year and +10.8% in the eight months from May.

The extent of the recovery in footfall varied across the UK in 2022. The areas that performed best in terms of the balance between the recovery back to the pre-pandemic footfall level and the annual increase from 2021 were Greater London, the East, the East Midlands and Wales.

Between May and December, footfall in the Greater London region rose by +19.1% and was -8.2% lower than in 2019. In the East footfall rose by +10.5% from 2021 and was -8.5% lower than in 2019, in the East Midlands it rose by +9.7% from 2021 and was -14.3% lower than in 2021 and in Wales footfall was +10.9% higher than in 2021 and -13.3% lower than in 2019.

Springboard also looked at online shopping habits, which showed a decline from pandemic peaks.

Spending on clothes and footwear came down from 65% online during the third lockdown in February 2021, more than triple the 20.5% recorded from January 2020, to 24.9% in December 2022.

Just 5.6% of food spending was carried out online before Covid, which then peaked at 13% in January 2021. However, in December 2022, online food shopping accounted for 8.5% of the total spend.

“Unbeknown at the time of the pandemic was the cost-of-living crisis and resulting increase in inflation that would await consumers and impact on spending during the latter part of 2022, which will continue through to 2023 and most likely beyond,” said Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle.

“Inevitably, this will act as a constraint to the number of trips made to retail destinations as household budgets come under increasing strain. Alongside this, however, is the positive trend for the desire of shoppers to return to shopping in store, evident from the reduction in the significance of online spending and the steady recovery in footfall towards the 2019 level.”

Morning update

Premium honey and craft spirits producer The British Honey Company has appointed Andrew Smallman to its board as a non-executive director.

Smallman has more than 20 years’ senior level experience within the drinks industry, with previous roles including spirits buying director for Matthew Clark and more than ten years as managing director of the UK business of Halewood Wines & Spirits.

He is currently MD of his own consultancy company Hurstpoint Associates, supporting start-ups, brands looking to step change and advising company boards with their growth plans.

BHC chairman Richard Day said: “I am delighted to welcome Andy to the BHC board. His extensive experience and understanding of the spirits industry gained over many years is already proving to be invaluable in our discussions and will add greatly to the combined skills base of the board.”

The FTSE 100 is up 0.1% to 7,761.66pts so far this morning.

Early risers include Science in Sport, up 3.7% to 14p, Glanbia, up 2.8% to €11.97, Hotel Chocolat Group, up 1.9% to 212p, Bakkavor, up 1.8% to 116.2p, and Hilton Food Group, up 1.2% to 636.3p.

Virgin Wines UK, McBride, Nichols and THG are among the fallers, down 4.5% to 53p, 3.1% to 23.5p, 2.3% to 1,026p and 1.5% to 54p respectively.

Yesterday in the City

The FTSE 100 dipped by 0.4% to 7,757.36pts yesterday.

Despite record Christmas sales at Primark, Associated British Foods shares fell 1.8% to 1,835.7p.

Elsewhere, Virgin Wines UK declined 4.1% to 53.3p, and food delivery stocks Just Eat Takeaway and Deliveroo fell 3.8% to 2,017p and 4.1% to 89.7p respectively.

Risers included McBride, PZ Cussons and Hiltons Food Group, up 0.1% to 24p, 2.6% to 215p and 3.1% to 629p respectively.