// UK retail enjoyed a soft rebound in footfall figures as the England and Northern Ireland
// Overall UK footfall decreased 57.2% YoY, compared to previous week decline of 76.2% YoY, says BRC
// Meanwhile, Springboard says overall footfall figures surged 45% week-on-week
The reopening of non-essential retailers, including clothes shops and department stores in England led to soft rebound in customers heading to the high street, new data shows.
According to a special release of the BRC-ShopperTrak Footfall Monitor covering the week ending June 21 – the first full week since lockdown restrictions were lifted on non-essential retail in England – overall footfall across the UK decreased 57.2 per cent year-on-year.
This was a slight improvement on the previous week, when overall UK footfall was down 76.2 per cent.
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The monitor indicated that footfall on high streets declined by 61 per cent year-on-year, improvement on a decline of 74 per cent the previous week.
High streets were hit hard as gyms, cinemas, hair dressers, pubs, restaurants and other hospitality businesses remained closed.
Meanwhile, retail parks saw footfall decrease by 26.4 per cent year-on-year, an improvement on a decline of 43 per cent the previous week.
The BRC said retail parks continued to benefit from a higher proportion of supermarkets and ease of parking.
One the other hand, sopping centre footfall declined by 63.5 per cent year-on-year, an improvement on a decline of 80.7 per cent the previous week.
The Footfall Monitor factored the whole of the UK, and England and Northern Ireland were the only nations to have reopened their non-essential stores last week.
Wales begins to exit its lockdown from today, while Scotland is slated for next week.
“While many shops will welcome the increase in footfall as a result of shops opening, it is clear that the retail industry is not out of the woods,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.
“The initial burst of enthusiasm which saw footfall improve in the first few days after reopening quickly gave way to the lower demand which continues to threaten retailers up and down the country.
“Nonetheless, the UK’s rebound compared favourably to other European countries, suggesting that safety measures introduced by retailers have been well received by their customers.
“There is still a long way to go until consumers return to shopping destinations, particularly shopping centres, as they did before the pandemic.
“With many shops and jobs hanging in the balance, it is essential that the Government introduces measures to boost consumer demand in the economy.”
Separate footfall data from Springboard found that between June 15-21, the number of shoppers was up compared with the week before, but remain at historic lows.
Across all UK retail destinations, footfall was up 45 per cent despite Wales and Scotland keeping non-essential stores closed.
Springboard said footfall numbers were up just 8.5 per cent and 11.5 per cent in those countries respectively.
Splitting out the data, it showed high streets and shopping centres in England saw the biggest uptick in shoppers, both up 51 per cent during the week compared with a week earlier.
Retail parks saw a slower rise, up 32.7 per cent.
Compared with a year ago, footfall in England is still down 47.7 per cent.
In Wales it is down 68.8 per cent and Scotland down 66.5 per cent.
The data also found each day of the week saw an increased number of shoppers as more customers felt safe heading to stores, apart from Thursday when there was heavy rain.
“The opening of non-essential retail in England on Monday June 15 had a substantial impact on footfall across all retail destinations,” Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle said.
“The overall result for the UK was subdued by Scotland and Wales where retail reopening is yet to happen.
“We anticipate an additional uplift to come when retail in these areas of the UK also reopens and the hospitality and entertainment industry is given the green light to resume trading in the coming weeks.”
However, the improvements on England’s high streets were not matched by London’s West End, with footfall remaining down 80.8 per cent.
New West End Company chief executive Jace Tyrrell called for a relaxation of the two metre social distancing rules.
“In the West End, we are hindered by a lack of international visitors and restrictions to the use of public transport, and businesses are being further held back by unnecessary regulations,” he said.
The UK Government is conducting a review of the distance, with a decision expected this week.
Pubs and restaurants and other non-retail high street businesses will also hear about reopening plans slated for July 4.