Total UK year-on-year footfall fell by 43.4% in 2020, as lockdowns were enforced to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Data from the British Retail Consortium shows that the important ‘golden quarter’, from October to December, saw nearly half the footfall – a decline of 48.4% – compared to the same period in 2019.
In December, footfall decreased by 46.1%, a 19.3 percentage point improvement from November, when England was under lockdown.
High streets were hit the hardest in the five weeks from 29 November 2020 to 2 January, witnessing a footfall year-on-year decline of 49.5%, while shopping centre footfall decreased by 47.3%.
Northern Ireland saw the shallowest footfall decline of all regions at -47.2%, followed by Scotland at -50.2%. Wales saw a decline of -52.3%.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of British Retail Consortium, said: “After an encouraging start to the month Christmas shopper numbers dwindled as December progressed, due in large part to the creation of Tier 4 in England and increased restrictions elsewhere in the UK.
“High streets and shopping centres continued to see the most substantial decline in shoppers, as their ‘non-essential’ tenants were forced to close their doors during the weeks leading up to and following Christmas.
“London, the South East and Wales were hardest hit, with footfall dropping by over four fifths in the final week. However, it has been a hard year for the entire country, with footfall down by 43% in 2020 compared to the previous year.
“Now that all parts of the UK are effectively in lockdown and with social distancing measures expected to continue well into the New Year, ‘non-essential’ stores will be unable to trade their way back to recovery. A third lockdown will be one too many for some businesses. Rent bills continue to weigh heavily and the threat of a return to full business rates liability in April still looms. The Government must urgently reassure those businesses hardest hit by the pandemic that they will receive vital financial support in the form of an extension to the coronavirus business rates relief.”