June footfall “mildly better” than May, despite a plateau in figures

Footfall figures across the UK have plateaued, according to the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) latest report.

In June, footfall decreased by 27.6 per cent (against 2019), with only a 0.1 percentage point improvement from May.

The BRC-Sensormatic index compares only with pre-pandemic 2019 (Yo2Y) as 2020 was “a turbulent year” resulting in difficulty to make “meaningful comparisons”.

High street numbers last month fell 33.4 per cent compared to the equivalent period in 2019, while retail park footfall only dropped by 8.1 per cent – this is 11.8 percentage points above the rate in May 2021.

Shopping centre footfall declined by 35.8 per cent against 2019 figures.

London once again saw the biggest Yo2Y decline in footfall (at -38.5 per cent), with Portsmouth showing the shallowest decline of just -21.6 per cent. Mirroring the story from last month, Cardiff and Bristol were middle of the table again, at -24.6 and -26.2 per cent down respectively.

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Footfall is down on pre-pandemic levels, as the public are making more purposeful shopping trips, with less browsing and more buying. With most overseas holidays on hold, many Britons have sought out-of-town escapes while foreign tourist numbers have fallen. This appears to have helped footfall in smaller towns and cities.

“Retailers are hopeful that footfall will recover further with the move to the final stage of the roadmap, particularly as office workers begin to return to work in larger cities.”

Andy Sumpter, Retail Consultant EMEA for Sensormatic Solutions, commented: “The UK’s footfall in June was mildly better than what we saw in May. This small uplift in footfall (only seen in England and Wales) was perhaps unsurprising given that COVID rules were, by and large, the same.

“With most restrictions expected to be lifted on 19 of July, we can finally hope to see what the somewhat over-referenced new normal may actually look like. Retailers will be hoping their customers have missed browsing without restrictions, as much as they have missed their customers.”