Rail strikes in the UK are expected to lead to a decline in retail footfall, adding to the challenges faced by stores during the winter season. The industrial action, scheduled to take place from January 29th to February 6th, will involve overtime bans and rolling strikes across the country, with a significant impact on major regional cities and central London. MRI Software has described this period as “another damaging week for retail”, citing previous strikes that resulted in an 8-20% drop in footfall.

The strikes come on the heels of travel disruptions caused by storms Isha and Jocelyn, which already affected retailers as shoppers chose to stay home. On January 23rd, footfall in UK high streets was down 16.8% compared to the previous year. MRI Software predicts that the strike action will further exacerbate this decline in footfall.

Despite the negative outlook, MRI Software suggests that the impact of the strikes may not be as severe as on previous occasions due to the already significant decrease in footfall caused by the storms. Leisure and hospitality establishments in regional cities and London, which heavily rely on commuter footfall, are expected to be most affected. However, there is a possibility that local towns and centers could see some footfall from those working from home.

In conclusion, the rail strikes are anticipated to have a detrimental effect on retail footfall, with major cities and London experiencing the biggest impact. Although footfall has already been decreasing due to the recent storms, the strikes are likely to worsen the situation. It remains to be seen how retailers will adapt to these challenges and whether local towns and centers will benefit from remote workers venturing out during the day.

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