“A cause for cautious optimism”: Footfall figures up on last month

Footfall in May across the UK was up 12.3 per cent compared to April this year and graphs demonstrate an upward trend in footfall from the previous few months.

However, footfall was down 27.7 per cent in the four weeks from 2 to 29 May, compared with the same period in 2019.

This is according to the latest the BRC-Sensormatic index, which compares only with 2019 (pre-pandemic) as 2020 was “a turbulent year” resulting in difficulty to make “meaningful comparisons”.

High street footfall in April fell 34.6 per cent compared to the equivalent period in 2019, while retail park footfall dropped by 19.9 per cent and shopping centre footfall declined by 41.3 per cent.

Monthly total UK retail footfall (% change with 2019)

London saw the biggest decline in footfall compared with May 2019 (-37.5 per cent), with Belfast contributing to Northern Ireland’s shallow decline of just 14.9 per cent. Cardiff and Bristol were middle of the table, at -25.2 and -27.9 per cent down respectively.

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said that footfall levels improved across the UK’s high streets, retail parks and shopping centres in May. “This was in part due to the further easing of COVID restrictions, including the reopening of indoor hospitality, which enticed consumers back to shopping locations.

“The successful vaccination roll-out has also boosted consumer confidence and contributed to the improvement in footfall. However, restrictions on travel have denied many businesses, particularly those in our larger town and city centres, of vital overseas tourist spending.”

However, Ms Dickinson pointed out that many UK high streets have an increasing number of vacant shops.

Andy Sumpter, Retail Consultant EMEA for Sensormatic Solutions, commented: “May saw a slow but steady recovery for the high street as shoppers continued to return to bricks-and-mortar stores. While still down compared to pre-pandemic levels, we’ve seen cautious but consistent improvement to footfall with each passing month as society unlocks and the vaccine roll-out continues at pace, giving retailers a cause for cautious optimism.”