Too hot to shop! Soaring heat sees high streets abandoned

July 20, 2022 By pressable 0

With Transport for London (TFL) urging commuters to only travel if necessary, the soaring temperatures are having a dampening effect on the high street in the capital and across the country.

The Met Office has issued its first ever red warning for high heat for parts of the UK, including London, with temperatures forecast to reach 40 degrees.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard, says: “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. However, with the extreme heat today the reverse has occurred, with a drop in footfall in high streets of -7.3 percent over the period up to 11am on Monday, while in both shopping centres and retail parks – both of which offer air conditioned environments – footfall rose by 1.6 percent and 1.3 percent respectively.

Too hot to shop

The impact on high streets is demonstrated even more clearly by looking at footfall in different types of town across the UK; in city centres across the UK footfall was -11.5 percent lower than last week and -16.1 percent lower in Central London. 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%. In sharp contrast, footfall in coastal towns across the UK was up by 9 percent from last Monday.

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

The extreme heat is unique to the UK, with London set to be one of the hottest places in the world on Monday, with temperatures soaring above the Western Sahara and the Caribbean, according to the BBC.

The high temperatures have resulted in the first ever red warning by the Met Office, since the system was introduced last year. The warning means “widespread impacts on people and infrastructure” are expected, with “substantial changes in working practices and daily routines” required.