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Footfall to Fashion Stores Surged 7,900%. Here’s What That Really Means.

March foot traffic to nationwide stores that sell apparel skyrocketed 7,900 percent from year-ago figures, according to Cowen & Co. data, though 2020 pandemic lockdowns create noticeably lopsided comps.

Tuesday’s Cowen report shows that total retail footfall across the country climbed 2,600 percent from the same period last year. Cowen’s data seems to reflect the national Covid-19 vaccination effort, which will be open to all adults in the U.S. in the coming weeks, and could signal consumers’ renewed interest in resuming their regular shopping habits now that pharmaceuticals are curbing the virus’ harshest effects.

Cowen, which reconfigured its analysis in light of the pandemic, says U.S. retail traffic is averaging 51.1 percent of comparable 2019 traffic levels. Its forecast for traffic during the fifth week of March calls for 65 percent to 70 percent of two-year-ago levels, the retail team said in a report. “Warming trends should be a driver of spring seasonal sell-through as is the Passover/Easter holiday,” it added, noting that Easter this year falls a week earlier on April 4, compared with April 12 last year.

Meanwhile, data from British footfall-tracking firm Springboard says U.S. retail traffic climbed 8.9 percent for the week ending March 27, marking the seventh week of gains. That’s “nearly four times as great as the rise in the prior week,” said Diane Wehrle, Springboard’s marketing and insights director.

“This is by far the longest period of sustained uplift in customer activity since mid June 2020, and is further evidence of the increasing success of the vaccination program which is encouraging consumers to make trips to bricks and mortar retail destinations,” she said. However, pedestrian footfall remains 57.5 percent off from the comparable 2019 period.