Fringe Box



Confused Picture of High Street Footfall

Published on: 8 Apr, 2022
Updated on: 10 Apr, 2022

By Hugh Coakley

There are conflicting reports of the current level of high street footfall in Guildford.

A count using mobile phone data shows the town is now a healthy 28 per cent above pre-pandemic footfall levels but this is in stark contrast to the around 25 per cent drop in Guildford’s footfall measured by camera. The 25 per cent drop also reflects the national picture.

Shoppers rapidly returned to Guildford High Street once lockdown ended but are they there in the same numbers?

Chris Hurren, RSM UK accountants.

Chris Hurren, from auditors and tax accountants RSM UK, said: “Footfall is likely to have been boosted by fewer workers commuting into the city, as home and hybrid working becomes the new normal. This behavioural shift has allowed some high streets to begin reaping the benefits.

“Restrictions on international travel, testing requirements, the absence of big brands such as Debenhams and Topshop on the high street, and a behavioural shift to online shopping have all contributed to reduced footfall nationally.”

Amanda Masters

And Amanda Masters, CEO for Experience Guildford, was positive about the economic health of the high street saying: “It is really exciting to see the new businesses opening up and coming soon. The end of Q4 of the financial year will always throw up change as leases come to an end and perhaps are not renewed. But the new openings seem to be outweighing the closures so far.”

But she was doubtful of the mobile phone-based data. Commenting on the discrepancy between the Datscha mobile phone footfall data and that published regularly by Experience Guildford, she said: “We use the industry-standard camera headcount provided by Springboard.

“We tried the mobile phone count method a few years back, but phone technology moves so quickly and Apple, in particular, change their coding so you could be counting the same phone as several different phones.

“There is no exact science to this, but we decided to return to Springboard who provide for most towns and cities in the UK.”

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Responses to Confused Picture of High Street Footfall

  1. Martin Elliott Reply

    April 8, 2022 at 1:01 pm

    Another important metric is surely the GBC Car Park income.

    It was the largest income stream to the GBC Budget pre-pandemic (then property portfolio, then council tax).

    Although the alternative business cases were not clearly explained in council papers, the level of reduction in footfall has led to a 23-40 per cent increase in charges.

    If High Street footfall has returned, are these extortionate increases necessary?

  2. Sue Warner Reply

    April 9, 2022 at 8:37 pm

    Due to high Covid numbers, I don’t go near to the High Street or any other busy areas. When people take more responsibility by wearing masks and social distancing I might go back but most think, because of this government’s irresponsible attitude, that Covid has gone away.

    Reality check, it hasn’t.

  3. Jim Allen Reply

    April 10, 2022 at 2:19 pm

    My visit to the town centre only occurs when Ernie pays out. Its cheaper, simpler and easier to buy on line.

  4. Robert Douglass Reply

    April 14, 2022 at 3:28 pm

    I like shopping in person and am so disappointed to see how many empty shops there are now in the town centre. But the council is doing no favours with the increase in parking charges, reduction in the time limit on free on-street parking, and bus services which are not nearly so frequent, including the Artington Park and Ride. All disincentives to going into town.

  5. Ben Paton Reply

    September 16, 2023 at 1:01 pm

    This Youtube video on the decline of Halifax High Street and the relative success of surrounding towns like Hebden Bridge illustrates a number of problems common to all high streets.

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