A lockdown extension ‘catastrophic’ for non-essential retail, warns BRC

There was a further drop in UK retail footfall last month, followed by a brief resurgence this week as consumers sought to buy much needed items and Christmas gifts following the Government’s announcement of a second national lockdown in England.

According to the British Retail Consortium’s ShopperTrak monitor, footfall was down 33.5 per cent year-on-year in October, a steeper decline than the 30 per cent seen in September.

High streets remained worst-hit in the UK, with footfall dropping 39 per cent, despite the wave of shoppers more recently heading out before non-essential retail stores were forced to close their doors for a second time.

Retail parks saw footfall drop 9.3 per cent in October and shopping centre footfall fell 38 per cent year-on-year.

Elsewhere, data from Springboard showed footfall in UK retail destinations fell 32 per cent annually in October. It was another month which showed just how badly the sector has been hit by COVID-19.

Commented Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of British Retail Consortium: “Today’s lockdown is likely to see footfall plummet to the depths seen during the previous closures, putting hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk. Despite investment in online and click and collect services it is unlikely closed retailers will be able to make up for lost ground.

“Any extension to the lockdown beyond 3 December would be catastrophic for non-essential retail businesses so we urge the government to commit to allowing them to reopen from this date, safe in the knowledge that the previous reopening did not lead to any spike in infections.

“Furthermore, the Government must wholeheartedly support those businesses they have forced to close, both now and in the future. It is vital these retailers do not face a cliff-edge of 100 per cent business rates liability from April 2021.”