Pre-pandemic footfall ‘unlikely to return any time soon’

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has said that while footfall begins, it does not expect pre-covid levels to return in the near future.

As stores reopened last month, total UK footfall decreased by 40 per cent compared to 2019, a 28.7 per cent improvement on the previous month.

Footfall on High Streets declined by 43.9 per cent during the same period, above the three-month average decline of 61.2 per cent.

Retail Parks saw footfall decrease by 30.5 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels. This was a 6.3 percentage point improvement from the previous month, and above the three-month average decline of 35.4 per cent.

Shopping Centre footfall declined by 49.8 per cent. This compared favourably against the three-month average decline of 67.2 per cent.

“While shops have worked incredibly hard to provide consumers with a safe and enjoyable shopping experience, it is unlikely we will see a return to pre-pandemic levels of footfall anytime soon, as social distancing measures naturally restrict retailers’ capacity,” said Helen Dickinson, chief executive, BRC. “Retail parks continued to fare better than shopping centres and high streets, as they benefit from the presence of large stores, more space and on-site parking. However, it was encouraging to see footfall improve across all retail sites compared to the lockdown months.”

Dickinson said that growing consumer demand and footfall in the months ahead will be vital for the survival of many retailers, as they start to see costs increasing as stores reopen and colleagues return from furlough.

“With full business rates relief ending in England in June, the ongoing rates review needs to deliver on its objectives to reform the broken rates system and reduce the financial pressures on retailers, otherwise many stores and viable jobs will be under threat,” she added.

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