Xmas footfall highest since start of pandemic

Footfall across the UK’s retail shopping destinations in the weeks leading up to Christmas reached their highest level since the pandemic began, according to new figures.

The latest data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) revealed that while total UK footfall decreased by seven per cent during December compared to pre-pandemic levels, it was six per cent higher than November.

The results represent an improvement on the three-month average decline of just over 10 per cent.

Across the whole of 2022, UK footfall was nearly 12 per cent lower than figures recorded before the pandemic, a significant improvement on the previous year which was 33 per cent below pre-pandemic levels.

Chief executive of the BRC Helen Dickinson said that a combination of rail disruption and cold weather hindered shoppers from visiting both town centres and High Streets in the last week before Christmas.

She added that postal strikes had forced some shoppers to head to retail destinations to buy last minute gifts in-store.

“Historically low consumer confidence and 30-year-high inflation made for an exceptionally difficult year for consumers and retailers, with footfall down over 10 per cent on pre-pandemic levels,” said Dickinson. “Nonetheless, this was still a significant improvement on the previous two years when the pandemic kept many people at home. Although retailers’ input costs show little sign of easing in 2023, they continue to do all they can to keep prices affordable and tempt customers in.”

The figures come as a new report reveals that around 47 shops closed permanently each day in 2022, a year-over-year increase of almost 50 per cent.

The study, from the Centre for Retail Research (CRR), found that 17,145 shops shut their doors for the final time in 2022, compared with 11,449 in 2021 during the Covid Pandemic.

The CRR said that these store closures led to the loss of 151,474 retail staff, which includes online retailers. This is an increase of over 40 per cent compared with the 105,727 jobs lost in 2021.

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