The footfall factor – critical kpi for town centre vitality and viability

To measure the success of the town or high street, it is essential to count people.

Footfall, or pedestrian count, is the most important factor influencing town centre and high street vitality and viability.

High Streets Task Force

Footfall affects many other indicators of a healthy, or otherwise, town centre. Without knowing accurate footfall counts, both live and over time, town centre managers can’t enact validate strategies or gain early warning signs of things amiss.

Vacancy rates

Decreasing footfall ultimately results in increasing shop vacancies. As footfall recedes, more shop premises become empty leading to even less footfall: a vicious circle. The first signs of footfall decline are an early warning sign that can be acted upon before vacancies multiply.

Money spent

Retailers and other businesses are loathe to share their sales data, but footfall is strongly related to spend and provides a proxy measure of sales. Knowing footfall figures indicates the robustness of sales.

Rent Levels

Landlords can charge a premium for properties in areas of high footfall.

Successful strategies for a town centre

Working groups cannot improve a high street or town centre, without first having accurate footfall figures. Stakeholders use the footfall information to quantify the success of initiatives. Importantly, changes in footfall flag problems so improvement strategies can be formulated and put in place. Having hard evidence of visitor numbers will attract new investment into a centre.

According to research from the UK’s High Streets Task Force, 10% of towns are busier than their planning designation would suggest; and 26% of towns are quieter than their planning designation would suggest. The Task Force believes that quieter towns would succeed by becoming a multifunctional hub rather than concentrating on retail. But to use this approach footfall figures must first be known.

How to measure footfall in real-time

Footfall reveals a great deal about high streets: how they are used both now and previously, and how their use is changing. But despite the importance of collecting footfall data, the majority of high streets still don’t bother. It’s easy for them to measure footfall automatically though, and view dashboards of footfall information on-line.

Retail Sensing footfall units, for example, connect to cameras positioned on lamp posts and automatically count the people passing below. The systems can also count bicycles, vehicles and passengers on public transport. They send the footfall counts over the internet to a secure dashboard, and integrate them into the internet-of-things when needed. Yearly, monthly, weekly, daily, hourly (or even every 10 minutes’) information are tabulated, charted and compared over time.

Stakeholders have full access to all the data, all the time. Contact us for more information.

Further Reading

Footfall: A key performance indicator, Institute of Place Management Professional and Technical Standards, Guidance and Notes Series

Review of High Street Footfall, High Streets Task Force

Retail Sensing

Retail Sensing manufacture the Video Turnstile people counting, vehicle sensing and smart city equipment. Our systems not only measure footfall and traffic, but monitor queues, display occupancy, track shoppers around stores, show heat maps of most visited areas, record passenger numbers, count pedestrians and provide retail intelligence and key performance indicators.

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