The final public holiday weekend in the UK, which took place just before the start of the school year, brought much-needed relief to the retail sector. According to new data from MRI Springboard, Sunday, August 28th, emerged as the peak day for the long weekend, experiencing an impressive 10.5% increase in retail footfall compared to the previous week. This surge in foot traffic was seen across various types of retail destinations, including high streets, retail parks, and shopping centres.

High streets witnessed a noticeable 9% rise in footfall, while retail parks saw a significant increase of 9.8%. However, it was shopping centres that surpassed expectations, enjoying a remarkable 14.2% surge in footfall. This exceptional performance emphasizes the allure of coastal and historic towns as popular day trip destinations during the long weekend.

Nevertheless, footfall on Saturday and Monday did not fare as well, experiencing slight decreases compared to the same days in the previous week. Saturday saw a marginal drop of 0.2%, while Monday witnessed a more significant decline of 7.6%. The decrease in foot traffic on these days can be attributed to a significant number of individuals taking advantage of the long weekend to embark on overseas holidays.

Diane Wehrle, the insights director at MRI Springboard, suggests that the chance to go out on Sunday during the bank holiday weekend resulted in substantial increases in footfall from the previous week, particularly in coastal and historic towns where foot traffic rose by 22.2% and 20.5% respectively. Additionally, many shoppers chose to stay local, leading to a 12.9% increase in footfall in market towns compared to the previous Sunday. These findings highlight the diverse preferences of individuals in how they choose to spend their long weekends, whether by exploring new destinations or remaining closer to home.

Interestingly, Central London experienced higher footfall on Bank Holiday Sunday and Monday compared to the same days last year, indicating an increase in overseas visitors to the capital. MRI Springboard notes that the popularity of Sunday outings is evident by the fact that footfall in high streets on that day was 1.3% higher than in 2019. However, footfall in retail parks and shopping centres remained lower than in 2019, with a decline of 10.7% in retail parks and 14.6% in shopping centres.

In summary, the long weekend in the UK provided a significant boost in retail footfall, particularly on Sunday. While footfall on Saturday and Monday experienced slight decreases, the increased visits to coastal and historic towns, as well as local market towns, demonstrate the appeal of these destinations during the holiday season. Additionally, the higher footfall in Central London suggests a rise in international visitors. As the school year commences and summer draws to a close, the positive impact of the long weekend on footfall serves as a promising sign for the UK retail industry.

Useful links:
MRI Springboard
Visit Britain