Springboard Annual Review 2021

Blackburn BID attended the Springboard Annual Review 2021 webinar on behalf of our members, looking at footfall, vacancy rate, and consumer spend/behaviours in 2021 in the UK.  

Here are some insights:


  • 2021 vs 2019 – High streets footfall was -36.7%; -11.8% in retail parks; -37.9% in shopping centres; and -31.1% across all UK destinations, 
  • 2021 vs 2020 – High streets footfall was +54.1%; +28.7% in retail parks; +53% shopping centres; and +47.8% across all UK destinations 
  • Smaller towns have had more resilience during the pandemic.  Market towns saw a reduction in footfall of -30.9% 2021 vs 2019 and -37.7% 2020 vs 2019 whereas regional cities were down 44.6% 2021 vs 2019 and -54.7% 2020 vs 2019
  • Prior the pandemic the opposite was true, regional cities were more resilient to the decline, which was bigger in smaller towns.
  • A key aspect of this impact on larger cities as a result of the pandemic is the rise of hybrid / home working.  Over half of all consumers work at home for at least part of the week: 53% as of November 2021. In Feb 2020 5.7% of employees were working from home.  In June 2021 that rose to 44%.
  • How has this impacted on people’s shopping habits?  51% said they haven’t changed their shopping habits.  24% said they visit retail destinations less frequently.  15% said they visit more during the evening / weekend.
  • Capture rate (percentage of passersby entering physical stores) is at 10% down from just over 11% in 2019 (12.2% in 2016).  There’s been a key shift in entertainment and books which is down from 22.8% in 2019 to 14.7% in 2020.  The capture rate for the food and beverage sector has increased from 17.2% in 2019 to 27.3% in 2021.  Also a shift in fashion and accessories – from 15.7% to 24.1%.  Shows consumers still like shopping in store and seeing and touching items, experiencing leisure and browsing.
  • In-store sales are down 2021 vs 2019 by -3.5%.  However, pre-covid store sales were down -4% comparing 2019 to 2018.  In-store sales started declining in 2016, when they were down by -0.4% compared with the previous year.
  • In store sales increased the most in the jewellery sector in the period May to Dec 2021 compared with 2019.  In store sales in jewellery stores were up +15.1% and in stores sales in electricals and mobile phones were +3%.  All other sectors saw a reduction, with health and beauty and fashion and accessories seeing the least (-0.5% and -0.6% respectively).  The most hit in-store sales were department stores, entertainment and books, services, and general merchandise / misc.
  • Online sales represented 20% of all retail sales in Jan 20.  They had peaks around Nov 20 and Jan 21 (periods of lockdown), and were at 27.7% at December 2021.  34.3% of all retail sales were online sales of textiles, clothing and footwear

Shop vacancy rate

  • Current UK vacancy rate is 11.7%  Last time it was at that level is April 2013.  
  • Pre-pandemic, Jan 2020 the rate was 9.8%

Consumer confidence

  • Consumer confidence – overall index score was -13 in 2019.  It was -26 in 2020 and -15 in 2021. The index score takes account of peoples own financial position and their feelings about the wider economic situation.  
  • The index score was at -7 in July 2021.  Main reason people weren’t feeling confident was the general economic situation over the previous 12 months (score was -50).  
  • In positive news, the score for people’s personal financial situations over the next 12 months was at -7

Looking forward to 2022

  • Likely changes to consumer behaviour in 2022
    • Hybrid / home office working will continue
    • More evening and weekend visits
    • Less frequent trips but longer dwell times
    • Increase in combined shopping and dining trips
    • Shifts in peak trading days and hours
    • Recovery of market and smaller towns continuing, alongside recovery of large city centres
    • Optimistic prospects for big cities – domestic and international visits, more ‘day out’ visits than commuter / worker visits
    • Migration of some spend online to continue alongside a drift back to store – people do like shopping in store still
    • Hit on real incomes through increased inflation (energy bills increasing)
    • Expect footfall to remain at least 10% lower in 2022 than the pre-Covid level (2019).  NB some of that would have happened whether Covid happened or not, as footfall was declining year on year pre-pandemic.

©2022 Blackburn BID

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