Second wave restrictions hinder September footfall

Year-on-year footfall decreased by 30.1 per cent in September, with only a 4.7 percentage point improvement from August, according to the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) and ShopperTrak data.

Footfall on high streets fell by 36.9 per cent year-on-year, with new social distancing restrictions making it the most negatively affected location in September.

Shopping centre footfall was down 36.1 per cent year-on-year. This was just over a percentage point shallower than in August, but remained below its 12-month average decline of 35.2 per cent.

Retail parks saw footfall decrease by 6.9 per cent year-on-year. Wider open spaces in comparison to other locations and a higher proportion of supermarkets helped to shelter retail parks from a steeper decline.

In the first week of September, year-on-year footfall was down 24.3 per cent, falling steadily over the month to minus 33.6 per cent in the fifth week.

Andy Sumpter, EMEA retail consultant at ShopperTrak, said: “At the beginning of the month we saw footfall rise to a post-lockdown peak, buoyed by back-to-school and the final week of the Eat Out To Help Out scheme.

“However, as the stimulus package ended, so did the recovery in shopper traffic, the roll out of increased local restrictions and lockdowns, with a quarter of the UK population placed under stricter rules in September, could be undermining consumer confidence in bricks-and-mortar shopping.”

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson commented that as the second wave of the pandemic sweeps the UK and additional restrictions come into force, footfall has steadily dropped during the month as many shoppers chose to stay at home.

“It is likely that rising case numbers and future restrictions may see footfall decline in the coming months,” she stated. “Sales at upcoming holidays, including Halloween and bonfire night, are also likely to remain muted.”

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