Footfall: A key performance indicator

Footfall, or pedestrian count/flow, is the most important factor influencing town centre and high street vitality and viability. This short paper - part of the Institute of Place Management’s Professional and Technical Standards, Guidance and Notes Series - summarises evidence collected from academia, policy, and practice demonstrating the importance of counting footfall to assess and monitor centre performance.

Date added 18 June 2020
Last updated 18 June 2020

Footfall is the most important factor influencing town centre and high street vitality and viability. This short paper - part of the Institute of Place Management’s Professional and Technical Standards, Guidance and Notes Series - summarises the evidence collected from a range of sources from academia, policy, and place management practice, that demonstrate the importance of counting footfall to assess and monitor centre attractiveness, vitality and viability. This guidance document will, therefore, be valuable for local decision makers seeking to implement evidence-based place interventions and monitor the effectiveness of these, as well as those planning to apply for the Reopening High Streets Safely Fund, in which footfall is mentioned as being an important indicator to monitor.

This footfall guidance document covers several key areas:

  • Examples of when footfall has been mentioned as a key measure of town centre and high street vitality and viability in planning advice documents released by UK Government.
  • The relationship between footfall and other indicators of high street and town centre performance, including vacancy rates, sales figures, yields/rent, and visitor experience.
  • How footfall data is used in place management practice, as well as the range of benefits of doing so, such as providing an objective measure of centre performance, benchmarking performance against national/regional averages, and providing evidence to attract and retain businesses.
  • The four footfall ‘signatures’ identified in the Bringing Big Data to Small Users Project conducted by the Institute of Place Management: comparison towns, holiday towns, speciality towns, and multifunctional towns; and how these town types are distributed across the UK.
  • A list of recommended reading about footfall within the academic literature.

To read more about the findings of the Bringing Big Data to Small Users Project please see the related High Streets Task Force Resource here