UK retail footfall drops 73.5% in February


UK footfall declined by 73.5% year on year in February, according to the latest data.

With the UK still in lockdown, footfall was up by just 3.4 percentage points on January, posting the second largest drop since May 2020, according to BRC-Sensormatic IQ data.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of British Retail Consortium, said: “Footfall remained down by three quarters during the second full month of lockdown. Shopping centres continued to suffer the most due to their high proportion of ‘non-essential’ retailing, whereas retail parks benefitted from the presence of large essential retailers such as supermarkets and health stores. While footfall improved slightly due to slowing COVID infections boosting consumer confidence, it will be a difficult time for retail until businesses are permitted to reopen in April.

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“Retailers welcomed the Chancellor’s extension of key business funding schemes in Wednesday’s Budget. Nonetheless, the real challenge will arise in April, as tens of thousands of ‘non-essential’ retailers hold their breath to see if demand returns to stores. Despite the support offered by the Chancellor, the retail industry is not out of the woods yet. In order to support a much needed recovery in the industry and the three million jobs it supports, the Government must ensure the UK’s state aid rules allow businesses to fully access the grants and loans that have been announced.”

Andy Sumpter, Retail Consultant EMEA for Sensormatic Solutions, commented: “With lockdown fatigue looming large, February saw another month of limited footfall on the High Street, as non-essential retail remained closed and stores shuttered. February did see a small lift in shopper counts compared to January, perhaps due to the ongoing success of the vaccine roll-out and the roadmap for unlocking announced earlier in the month giving consumer confidence a boost.

“However, while there is light at the end of tunnel, the outlook between now and 12 April, when non-essential retail can reopen, remains bleak. Many retailers will be holding out hope that, once again, consumers will return when they reopen and that pent-up demand for real life retail experiences will sustain the High Street’s recovery.”

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Lee Peart

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