‘Wild Wednesday’ in England: Reopened Stores Experience High Footfall, but Not a Frenzy

After a month-long lockdown, non-essential stores in England finally welcomed back customers on Wednesday, and the response was overwhelming. Retailers went the extra mile to create an enticing shopping environment, and consumers, eager to find bargains and start their Christmas shopping, eagerly rushed to the stores. The reopening resulted in a significant surge in footfall, with New West End CompanySpringboard reporting an astonishing 87% increase compared to the previous Wednesday. This surge in foot traffic far surpassed what was seen during the summer reopening. The New West End Company attributes this increase to the high demand for festive goods and what they call “lockdown fatigue.”

However, it is important to note that despite the increased footfall, the numbers still paled in comparison to the previous year. Footfall across England was down by 22%, with city centers experiencing a decline of up to a third. Additionally, Barclaycard reported that overall spending on this reopened Wednesday was almost 14% lower than the spending on Black Friday when stores were still closed. So, while dubbed “Wild Wednesday,” the day did not quite live up to its hype.

Retail parks, on the other hand, fared relatively well, with footfall down only 4% compared to the same period last year. This showcases the strength of retail parks as compared to other shopping destinations throughout the year. Notable queues were observed not only in retail parks but also on popular shopping streets and in malls. Stores like Debenhams, Primark, Nike Town, and Foot Locker attracted large queues as shoppers rushed to take advantage of discounts and deals. This surge in footfall was particularly encouraging for destination city centers, like London’s West End, which have been severely impacted by low footfall throughout the year.

Jace Tyrrell, CEO of New West End Company, expressed satisfaction with the footfall in the West End, which saw a staggering 165% increase compared to the previous week. Tyrrell recognized the importance of the weeks leading up to Christmas in reviving some of the lost trade. Despite the increase in footfall, it still remained 56% lower than the previous year. In an effort to encourage support for the high street, Tyrrell urged valued customers to visit and enjoy the much-needed festive cheer.

All in all, the reopening of stores in England brought forth a surge of shoppers eager to make purchases and enjoy the shopping experience. While it may not have lived up to the frenzy of expectations, it serves as a positive sign for the retail industry as it continues to strive towards recovery from the challenges posed by the pandemic. With Christmas just around the corner, retailers are hopeful that this increased footfall will continue, allowing them to regain some of their lost trade and end the year on a more positive note.

1. New West End Company
2. Barclaycard