Footfall down by a third in October

UK footfall decreased by 33.5 per cent year-on-year in October, with a 3.4 percentage point decline from September, according to the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) and ShopperTrak data.

Footfall on High Streets declined by 39.3 per cent year-on-year, making it the worst performing location in October and the worst performing location for the third consecutive month.

Retail parks saw footfall decrease by 9.3 per cent year-on-year, below the three-month average decline of 7.5 per cent, but above the 12-month average decline of 19.4 per cent.

Shopping centre footfall declined by 37.7 per cent year-on-year. This was just under a two-percentage point decline compared to September, but was just above the 12-month average decline of 37.8 per cent.

Northern Ireland saw the shallowest shopping centre footfall decline of all regions for the fourth consecutive month, down 26 per cent. Wales saw the sharpest rate, falling 64.9 per cent, as a result of the new restrictions during October. Scotland saw a decline of 33.4 per cent.

For the three days running up to lockdown this week, the footfall decline was 18 per cent, which was an improvement on that seen in October as people rushed to the shops ahead of their closure.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said that the government announcement of a second national lockdown led to a brief resurgence in footfall this week as the public sought to buy essential items and Christmas gifts before ‘non-essential’ stores were forced to close their doors for a second time.

“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,” she commented. “Despite investment in online and Click and Collect services it is unlikely closed retailers will be able to make up for lost ground.”

Dickinson warned that any extension to the lockdown beyond 3 December would be “catastrophic” for non-essential retail businesses, and again called on the government to support those businesses forced to close for a month at what would be peak trading season.

Andy Sumpter, EMEA retail consultant at ShopperTrak, added: “In the first lockdown, we saw shopper traffic bottom out at -85 per cent, and we expect November to follow the same trajectory, meaning retailers now face the prospect of a bleak, rather than a Black Friday.”

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