Coronavirus: Retail footfall suffers largest ever decline

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Springboard Diane Wehrle footfall covid-19
The number of people at retail sites in April dropped by a colossal 80.1%
// Retail saw its largest ever footfall decline in footfall in April
// This is due to shoppers staying home amid the Covid-19 chaos

The UK’s retail sector saw its largest ever decline in footfall last month as shoppers stayed home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In April, there was a “decline of unprecedented magnitude” as the number of people at retail sites dropped by a colossal 80.1 per cent, according to Springboard’s latest monthly footfall monitor.

The decline was almost double the level of the downturn in March, which posted a 41.3 per cent drop as the lockdown came into force.


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Retail parks were the least affected by the lockdown restrictions in April, but still saw footfall decline by 68.1 per cent.

The parks usually have supermarkets – which has been an essential shopping trip for many consumers during the lockdown.

Meanwhile, high streets reported a decline of 83.3 per cent, and shopping centre footfall dropped by 84.8 per cent during the period.

“Whilst this is somewhat inevitable given the closure of all but essential stores, it is perhaps indicative of consumers getting into a new rhythm around shopping and working from home,” Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle said.

“Additionally, the overriding focus on safe shopping and the greater emphasis on community that has come to the fore means that trips to larger towns and cities have been curtailed.

“Indeed, it is the first evidence available that suggests how consumers may respond to easing of restrictions.

“In contrast to pre-coronavirus days, when small high streets were facing an increasing struggle to attract shoppers, the path of recovery for retail may well be led by smaller high streets which can offer both safety and community benefits.”

Last week, the BRC-LDC Vacancy Monitor found that retail vacancy rates increased during the first quarter of 2020, highlighting the challenges faced by the sector even prior to the Covid-19 lockdown.

The vacancy rate edged up to 12.2 per cent in the quarter ended March, from 12.1 per cent at the end of December.

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