UK retail footfall recovery remains sluggish

UK retail footfall decreased 49.6 per cent year-on-year during the third week of reopening in England and Northern Ireland – although this was down on a decrease of 53.4 per cent the previous week.

The latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) and ShopperTrak figures showed that high street footfall declined by 55.7 per cent year-on-year – compared to a decrease of 58.1 per cent the previous week.

Retail parks saw footfall decrease by 24.6 per cent year-on-year - compared to a decrease of 28.4 per cent the previous week - while shopping centre footfall declined by 56.1 per cent year-on-year, compared to a decrease of 60.7 per cent the previous week.

Total retail footfall for the week increased 15.3 per cent week-on-week, with high streets and shopping centres showing higher rises than for retail Parks.

As pubs and restaurants reopened in England on 4 July, UK footfall for shops rose 9.2 per cent on the previous week – the smallest week-on-week rise for any day that week.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson commented that two weeks after most shops reopened in England, footfall is still only half what it was a year ago.

“The reopening of pubs, cafés and other hospitality businesses this Saturday does not appear to have benefited shops much, with the Saturday showing more modest growth than the days prior to these locations reopening.

“By European standards, the UK’s recovery remains slow, and while safety measures introduced by retailers have been well received by customers, many shoppers are still reluctant to visit physical shopping locations,” she added.

Andy Sumpter, EMEA retail consultant at ShopperTrak, said: "Those shoppers that make it out to the high street, retail parks, or shopping centres are more likely to be shopping with a purpose now, but with restricted numbers being allowed in, the pressure is still on.

“Retailers are serving less people, with greater overheads, so are of course looking to technology to assist with occupancy levels and social distancing – if you can free colleagues to help customers find what they want faster, they will be better utilised than standing at the door counting people."

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