Footfall jumps – business news 20 April 2021.

James Salmon, Operations Director.

Footfall jumps as stores reopen, tech optimism hits seven-year high, home workers miss out on bonuses and promotions, unemployment figures, 88% of mid-sized firms favour hybrid working model, house prices set for ‘summer bounce’ and Bank of England to consider digital currency.

Footfall jumps as stores reopen

Figures from Springboard show that the reopening of non-essential stores in England and Wales last week delivered a surge in shoppers to the high street, with footfall across all UK shopping destinations up 87.8% week-on-week. Visitor numbers across high streets, retail parks and shopping centres was up 330% when compared to the same week a year ago. Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, said: “These results provide concrete evidence of the desire of shoppers to return to bricks and mortar stores and destinations”, adding: “The key issue for retail destinations will be whether this momentum can be sustained.”

Tech optimism hits seven-year high

Optimism about their short-term growth prospects among the UK’s tech companies has hit a seven year high, according to KPMG’s quarterly tech monitor. With firms increasingly confident that business activity will bounce back strongly as lockdown measures and Brexit-related pressure eases, hiring increased at its quickest pace in two years in Q1. Despite increased optimism, business activity dropped modestly in the first quarter, largely in part to the latest coronavirus restrictions, while Brexit disruption delivered a slight drop in new orders. Bina Mehta, UK chair of KPMG, said the successful vaccine rollout and optimism around corporate technology investment has helped drive up business confidence.

Home workers miss out on bonuses and promotions

A new study of the jobs market reveals that staff who work from home are less likely to be promoted, get a bonus or receive training than those who work in the office. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) report says people who mainly worked from home were around 38% less likely on average to have received a bonus compared with those who never worked from home between 2013 and 2020. Reflecting on the findings, Josh Martin of the ONS commented: “It is evidence that people working mainly from home may be out of sight, out of mind.” The ONS also found that 35.9% of employees did at least some work from home last year. The report also found that home workers do an average of six hours of unpaid overtime per week, compared with 3.6 hours for office workers. The report comes as a survey by Deloitte revealed that over a fifth of workers have no interest in returning to the office, with 7.5m people eager to work from home permanently.


UK unemployment fell slightly to 4.9% from December 2020 to February 2021, some 0.9% higher than the same time last year. Economists had predicted that the unemployment rate would edge up to 5.1% as Britain spent the winter months in lock-down.

88% of mid-sized firms favour hybrid working model

A poll of 600 mid-sized businesses by Grant Thornton has found that 44% believe a shift to more remote working would be most effective for their company, while just 5% said that full-time office working was the best option post-pandemic. The survey saw 88% of firms say they were in favour of a hybrid model, while 51% said their office or workspace would need repurposing to adjust to new working patterns. Grant Thornton’s Dave Munton commented: “Businesses and their people have had to continually adapt how they work over the course of the last 12 months and many of the changes are likely to remain, at least to some extent, as we start to resume a more ‘normal’ life.”

House prices set for ‘summer bounce’

House prices are in line for a summer bounce following the extension of the stamp duty holiday announced by the Chancellor in his March Budget, according to analysis from home-moving services firm reallymoving. The reallymoving House Price Forecast March 2021 suggests that prices were heading downwards before the extension of property tax relief was confirmed. The firm said conveyancing quote volumes began to accelerate around March 3 – the day of the Budget – and were 51% above normal levels by mid-March and over 100% higher than normal levels by the start of April. With a 2.8% increase in the average value of deals being agreed, reallymoving expects this to be reflected in Land Registry Price Paid data in June.

Bank of England to consider digital currency

The Bank of England and the Treasury are setting up a taskforce to explore the possibility of a central bank digital currency. The taskforce will be jointly led by the Bank’s deputy governor for financial stability, Sir Jon Cunliffe, and the Treasury’s director general of financial services, Katharine Braddick. The taskforce will consider the risks and opportunities involved in creating a digital currency that would exist alongside cash and bank deposits, rather than replacing them. With many of the world’s central banks looking into the possibility of creating such a currency, officials said the UK taskforce will monitor international developments, “to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of global innovation”. Meanwhile, analysis suggests the UK is well-placed to adopt digital currencies, with a report from PwC placing the UK fifth in the world when it comes to preparing for the adoption of a central digital currency

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