Covid-19: UK store footfall continues to plummet despite reopenings

UK shop footfall fell by almost 50% year-on-year in the third week since non-essential stores have reopened in England, with many consumers reluctant to return to physical shopping amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. This follows a decline of 53.4% in the previous week.

ShopperTrak data published today by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) for the week 28 June -4 July showed that year-on-year footfall on the high street fell 55.7%, while in shopping centres it fell 56.1%, and in retail parks 24.6%.

Slightly more encouragingly, total retail footfall went up 15.3% week-on-week in this period. And figures from GfK last week showed that UK consumer confidence has improved in recent weeks following the easing of lockdown restrictions.

Disappointingly however, on 4 July, so-called ‘super Saturday’, when pubs and restaurants opened for the first time since lockdown began, UK footfall for shops only grew 9.2% week-on-week.

Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the BRC, commented: “It remains a long way back to normality for the retail industry; 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.

“On Wednesday, the Chancellor should announce measures to boost consumer demand – without it, the UK risks becoming an economic laggard in its coronavirus recovery. With the first shop closures being announced, the government must act fast to protect the three million retail jobs, as well as millions more throughout the supply chain.”

The findings offer further doubts regarding the future of the high street in the post-Covid world, with consumers looking set to continue their shift to online shopping permanently.