Covid-19: Shop footfall improves in June as stores reopen

UK shop footfall improved in June as a result of the reopening of non-essential stores on 15 June in England and 12 June in Northern Ireland. This is according to British Retail Consortium (BRC) ShopperTrak data, covering 31 May to 4 July, a period in which Covid-19 lockdown restrictions significantly eased.

The analysis showed that footfall fell 62.6% year-on-year in June, although this is a 19 point percentage rise compared to May. The decline was 58.4% in the final three weeks of the period when stores reopened, compared to a 74.5% decrease during the first two weeks.

The biggest improvement was observed in retail parks, which fell by 33.8% year-on-year across the five weeks. This is likely to be due to having wider open spaces and a higher proportion of supermarkets and larger stores, making them more conducive to social distancing.

High street footfall fell by 64.5% year-on-year throughout the period, although this improved to 58.4% in the final three weeks. In shopping centres, footfall declined by 68.3% year-on-year.

The findings provide some hope for physical retail at the end of a week in which a number of store closures and redundancies have been announced. These include the John Lewis Partnership and Boots, who are focusing on growing their digital channels.

Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the BRC, commented: “With lockdown measures easing, consumers are slowly re-emerging onto their high streets, shopping centres and retail parks. Footfall levels are still well below pre-coronavirus levels; however, the decline was softer than it was in May thanks to the reopening of non-essential retail stores on 15 June.

“Retail parks have performed the best because they have a broad mix of retailers, more space and on-site parking, however, high streets and shopping centres are quickly catching up. UK recovery has been sluggish, especially compared with European standards, but retailers with stores remain hopeful that the reopening of hospitality will provide a welcome boost.”