UK high streets deserted as heatwave hits

·Finance Reporter, Yahoo Finance UK
·2-min read
high streets People cover themselves from the sun at Millennium Bridge during a heatwave, in London, Britain, July 18, 2022. REUTERS/Maja Smialkowska
The extreme heat is keeping people away from the high streets. Photo: Maja Smialkowska/Reuters

The current heatwave is having a dampening effect on the high street in the capital and across the country, with retail footfall in London registering a 18.1% drop on Monday morning.

Figures from Springboard’s “Back to the Office” benchmark showed that across UK high streets, footfall was down 7.3%. High streets in coastal towns saw a surge of footfall by 9%.

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“The extreme heat occurring today and tomorrow was already impacting footfall in UK retail destinations over the period up to 11am on Monday morning. Typically when the weather is hot and sunny, shoppers gravitate to outdoor locations, and so footfall in high streets tends to increase while decreasing in shopping centres,” Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, said.

In city centres across the UK footfall was 11.5% lower than last week and 16.1% lower in Central London.

The Met Office issued a red extreme heat warning on Monday and Tuesday for parts of central, northern, eastern and southeastern England.

“People are clearly working at home today as advised, as Springboard's Central London "Back to the Office" benchmark which tracks footfall in areas of Central London that are in close proximity to offices was down by -18.1%," Wehrle said.

"In sharp contrast, footfall in coastal towns across the UK was up by +9% from last Monday.”

“The only parts of the UK where high street footfall rose from last Monday were Scotland (0.6%), Northern Ireland (0.6%) and Wales (3.2%) where temperatures, whilst still hot, are lower than in England.

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“As the day progresses and the heat increases, we are anticipating that the gap between footfall in high streets and shopping centres will widen further.”

The UK Health Security Agency issued a level four warning for England, reminding people to take precautions, including staying indoors and drinking plenty of water.

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