Footfall struggles to bounce back as spending intentions remain low

Christmas shopping

UK Footfall decreased by 42.1% in July, a big improvement from June’s -62.6% although this continues to remain below the 3-month average decline of 61.6%.

This coupled up with spending intentions remaining low has made it tough for British retail to bounce back.

Footfall on high streets declined by 47.5% year on year, which is an improvement on June’s -64.5%. The reopening of pubs and restaurants did not have a significant impact on retail footfall over the course of the month.

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A joint BRC and Opinium survey into consumer spending plans found how 24% of respondents say they expect to spend less than usual over the next month compared with 11% who say they will spend more.

Retail Parks saw footfall decrease by 22.4% year on year, an improvement on June’s -33.8%. Wider open spaces, a higher proportion of supermarkets and larger stores quicker to reopen helped to shelter Retail Parks from a steeper decline.

Shopping Centre footfall declined by 48.1% year on year in July, improving on June’s -68.3%. They were the most negatively affected location, partly due to enclosed spaces making social distancing more of a challenge.

Commenting on the results, Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “July was the first full month in which shops were allowed to open in all parts of the UK. While retailers will welcome the improvement in footfall across all shopping destinations, it remains well down on pre-coronavirus levels.

“The reopening of pubs, cafes and restaurants has also provided some additional footfall to many high streets, including a small boost to local retailers. It remains too soon to say how well retail will recover in the coming months, but it clearly remains a difficult trading period for many physical retailers.”

Adding: “With retail footfall recovering slower than in many other European countries, much will depend how fast consumer demand returns. Retailers have put in place a variety of measures to keep shoppers and staff safe, from regular cleaning and hand sanitiser, to one-way systems and perspex screens at tills.

“We now need Government to play their part by providing clear plans for schools, transport, and office working, all of which impact the way we shop. The safety of the public is a top priority and we believe clear communication will help build public confidence and help bolster local high streets and shopping centres during the summer months.”

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Alex Douglas

The author Alex Douglas

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