Footfall recovers slightly and consumer confidence increases ahead of stores reopening

Total UK footfall dropped 68.7 per cent year-on-year in March, with only a 4.9 percentage point improvement from February this year.

This is above the three-month average decline of 72.3 per cent, according to the BRC.

It’s latest BRC-Sensormatic IQ data – which compares 2021 figures against 2019 (pre-pandemic) figures – showed footfall on high streets declined by 64.6 per cent year-on-two-years (as opposed to year-on-year).

Retail parks saw footfall decrease by 36.8 per cent, while, unsurprisingly, shopping centre footfall declined by 73.2 per cent as they’ve continue to be closed during this latest lockdown.

Wales saw the deepest decline in footfall at 71.2 per cent, followed by the North East of England region at 70.8 per cent.

UK footfall by location (percentage change with 2019)

Breaking the data down even further, Portsmouth was the worst-ranking city in the UK for its March footfall against March 2019 (-92.1), followed by Manchester (-83.2) and Leeds (-76 per cent).

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said that footfall had crept up on high streets and shopping centres as the warmer weather coincided with the end of the Government’s ‘stay at home’ requirements.

“Consumers appear to be more confident about visiting shops,” she added, “showing that the safety measures put in place are clearly helping to make shoppers feel more comfortable visiting and returning to stores.”

Andy Sumpter, Retail Consultant EMEA for Sensormatic Solutions, commented: “We may have started to see the green shoots of retail’s recovery beginning. But the real test comes as retail reopens this month – retailers will be hoping for stability and, once again, will be counting on the continued support of shoppers if any sort of bounce back is to be sustained.

“Having invested heavily to ensure their stores remain as safe as possible for shoppers to return, the onus is now on the consumer to vote with their feet and ‘use or lose’ the shops they previously frequented.”