The strongest performing UK city last week was Aberdeen with an increase in visits of 25% from last year. This is well above the average for the UK, which has overall seen a decrease of 13% since last year. Birmingham struggled to attract visitors last week and has seen footfall decrease by 43%. Likewise, London saw negative trends in visits last week, with a decrease of 43%. Compared to pre Covid-19, Aberdeen again seems to have the most resilient visitors, as they are undeterred by the uncertainty surrounding the economy with an increase of 31% compared to 2019.

Supermarkets performed strongly last week, with Aldi seeing the largest increase in visitors from last year at 38%. Could this be due to its attractive pricing, or perhaps Kevin the Carrot has created a festive buzz around the brand? Department stores performed weakly last week.

Even Emma Raducanu switching on Harrods’ iconic Christmas displays couldn’t save their performance, with footfall decreasing by 40% compared to last year. Meanwhile, outlet centres exhibited a 9% decline in footfall; not as extreme as the decline in department stores. This will add to fears that retailers could face a tough Christmas.


Was 2019 a good year to benchmark retail performance?

Was White Rose’s retail performance in 2019 a target to aim for in 2022 or has the pandemic glossed over issues that remain 3 years on?

Located in the Beeston area of Leeds, West Yorkshire, nearing the end of its 25th year of trading, the White Rose is home to 120 big brands as well as bars, restaurants and a Cineworld IMAX cinema, in this week’s spotlight we explore the impact of the pandemic and Cost of Living crisis on a scheme that represents a large proportion of other non-dominant retail assets across the UK.

Last week, visitors spent less time in the White Rose than they had a year prior: 71 minutes as opposed to 81. This does mirror trends from pre-pandemic, however. We see the same trend with the number of stores visited per trip. 1.5 stores on average pre-pandemic, 1.7 last year, and a return to 1.5 last week. 

Considering the upheaval in the retail industry because of Covid-19, is a familiar trend in shopping habits something to be welcomed? 

2019 was, at the time, considered a poor year for retail, with numerous store closures and insolvencies. This was put into perspective with the catastrophic effects for retail (supermarkets aside) from Covid-19 over the next two years. But is ‘returning to pre-Covid numbers’ a target retailers should be aiming for rather than realising the sector is on a downward trend since 2017/18? 

Primark drove much of the footfall to the centre last week. We saw 87,000 visits, each lasting just over 40 minutes on average. Another anchor store, Sainsbury’s, registered 58,000 visits. These visits are reduced compared to this time last year with a notable 38% reduction for Sainsbury’s. Is the Cost-of-Living crisis really starting to bite as we enter the winter months? 

Will trends like this force shopping centres to reduce their reliance on supermarkets to drive footfall? 

Across 2020 and 2021, The White Rose performed well compared to other retail places. This is likely due to the presence of Sainsbury’s, which was the strongest performing brand over this time period; receiving around one-fifth of all visits to the centre. Our data suggests that the comparatively strong performance of Sainsbury’s is helping to mask wider footfall decline since 2017/18. 

But if supermarkets can’t be relied on to drive visits what’s the alternative?

Our Location Affinity metric helps illustrate the flow of movement throughout the centre. If Primark is driving footfall and has a main entrance from the car park, are visitors venturing further into the store? Last week, of those that visited Primark, 11% visited Next, 7.4% visited Sainsbury’s and 4% visited M&S. It will be interesting to monitor the performance of this M&S as work to replace the former Debenhams site with an M&S anchor store continues. Is this intervention radical enough to reverse the decline seen since 2017/18?

The future remains uncertain for shopping centres like the White Rose. Particularly after yesterday’s Autumn Statement announcing tens of billions in tax rises and spending cuts, consumers will likely cut back on non-essential retail spend and restrict visits to shopping centres. How will The White Rose Shopping Centre tempt them back in?