Footfall recovers ground as more shops reopen

“With lockdown measures easing, consumers are slowly re-emerging onto their high streets, shopping centres and retail parks.

“Footfall levels are still well below pre-coronavirus levels; however, the decline was softer than it was in May thanks to the reopening of non-essential retail stores on 15 June.”

This was the latest comment from BRC Chief-Executive, Helen Dickinson OBE, following to the latest BRC-ShopperTrak footfall report (covering the five weeks 31 May ­– 4 July 2020).

She said that UK recovery has been “sluggish”, compared with European standards, “but retailers with stores remain hopeful that the reopening of hospitality will provide a welcome boost”.

Total UK Retail Footfall (percentage change YOY)

UK footfall decreased by 62.6 per cent in June year-on-year, as lockdown restrictions continued to ease, with a 19 percentage point improvement from May. In the first two weeks the footfall decline averaged 77.1 per cent, improving to 53.3 per cent in the remaining three weeks once all stores were allowed to open in England and NI.

Footfall on high streets declined by 64.5 per cent year on year. As non-essential stores began to reopen during the, which gave more consumers reasons to visit.

Retail parks saw footfall decrease by 33.8 per cent year on year. Wider open spaces, a higher proportion of supermarkets and larger stores quicker to reopen helped to shelter retail parks from a steeper decline, the report said.

Shopping centre footfall declined by 68.3 per cent year on year. They were the most negatively affected location, partly due to enclosed spaces making social distancing more of a challenge.

The decline in footfall was largest in Scotland, which only reopened in the final week of June, at 78.5 per cent. Northern Ireland, which reopened first (12 June), saw the shallowest decline of 56.9 per cent.

Ms Dickinson added: “Retail parks have performed the best because they have a broad mix of retailers, more space and on-site parking, however, high streets and shopping centres are quickly catching up.

“The Chancellor’s economic update provided critical interventions to protect jobs and incomes for households across the UK. We hope that some of the generous measures taken to support the hospitality industry will benefit footfall for retailers who are in close proximity to restaurants, bars and cafés.”

Andy Sumpter, Retail Consultant – EMEA of ShopperTrak, commented: “It really was a month of two halves with footfall down 80 per cent at the start of June before rising significantly post re-opening, though still far down on last year.

“In a time of purposeful shopping, footfall has a totally new value. The most effective retailers are using footfall data to allow customers to know the best time to visit to avoid queues. As customers begin to get used to new shopping practices, retailers will be working hard to ensure they have the right number of staff available at the right times.”