Lockdown exit “unlikely” to deliver “immediate” footfall boost

Lockdown exit
(Image: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)
// Overall footfall dropped by 81.6% due to the second full month of lockdown in May, although this was not as severe as April
// Footfall on high streets declined by 77.8%, shopping centre footfall dropped 84.9% & retail parks declined 55%
// BRC warned that retailers should not expect an immediate relief in customer numbers as shops reopen today

Experts have warned that today’s retail reopening in England would not deliver an “immediate” relief in customer numbers, after new figures showed that May footfall was still significantly low.

According to the latest BRC-Shoppertrak Footfall Monitor, last month continued to show significantly reduced level of footfall in all retail locations – decreasing by 81.6 per cent due to the second full month of lockdown.

Despite this, the figure was not as severe as April, after the government updated its lockdown guidance to allow garden centres and homeware stores to reopen alongside other essential shops.


The monitor showed that footfall on high streets declined by 77.8 per cent year-on-year, faring better in comparison to shopping centres as local convenience stores saw a rise in popularity.

Shopping centre footfall declined by 84.9 per cent year-on-year. They were the most negatively affected location, partly due to enclosed spaces making social distancing more of a challenge.

Meanwhile, retail parks saw footfall decrease by 55 per cent year-on-year as wider open spaces and a higher proportion of supermarkets helped to shelter it from a steeper decline.

Total UK Retail Footfall (% change YoY)

Weekly footfall % change by location

The BRC warned that retailers should not expect an immediate relief in customer numbers as lockdown on non-essential retail is lifted from today.

“Other countries that have lifted their lockdown have seen footfall rise by around 15-25 percentage points in the initial weeks, and many retailers will hope for a similar, if not larger rise, as shops in England begin to reopen,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.

“Retailers have been under immense pressure for the past three months but the reopening of non-essential shops from today is unlikely to deliver immediate relief.

“A mix of low consumer confidence and limits on the number of people able to enter stores mean that many shops will continue to suffer lower footfall – and lower sales – for some time to come.

“The Government should consider options to stimulate demand, such as a short-term reduction in VAT or a temporary income tax cut for lower-income workers.

“As they return to serving the country, there is still a risk that many physical shops could end up closing their doors again – only this time, permanently.”

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