Footfall plunges 65% in November, but retail sales increase 3.3%

Footfall plunges 65% in November amid second English lockdown
High streets across the UK were particularly badly affected by lockdown measures, reporting a 63.9% slump compared with November 2019.(Image: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wires)
// Overall UK footfall plummets 65.4% in November, according to BRC-ShopperTrak
// This has been attributed to the second and month-long lockdown England went through
// Separately, retail sales from BDO showed a 3.3% rise in retail sales during November

Shopper numbers plummeted last month as England’s second national lockdown piled pressure on troubled high street retailers, according to new figures.

The BRC-ShopperTrak footfall monitor for November revealed that footfall across all UK shopping destinations dived by 65.4 per cent compared with the same month last year, due to England entering a four-week lockdown period.

The tail-end of November also saw Northern Ireland and 11 local council areas across Scotland enter lockdowns for two weeks and three weeks respectively.


BRC and ShopperTrak said the overall November figure was 31.9 per cent lower than footfall in October.

Stores in England were greeted with queues on Wednesday after they reopened ahead of the key Christmas trading period.

Northern Ireland and affected areas of Scotland remain in lockdown for another week.

“Footfall plummeted once again as England underwent its second national lockdown in November,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.

“With the majority of stores closed, many missed out on the usual Black Friday boost to store visits as customers hunted for bargains online instead.

“Retail parks were hit less hard thanks to a higher proportion of supermarkets and other essential stores in those locations, slightly mitigating the overall drop in footfall.

“Now that all of retail is open again, customers can get out and do their Christmas shopping confident that stores are Covid-secure and retailers are doing everything to keep them safe.”

High streets across the UK were particularly badly affected by lockdown measures, reporting a 63.9 per cent slump compared with November 2019.

Shopping centres were also hit hard, with the figures showing they saw a 61.8 per cent year-on-year decline.

However, retail parks continued to perform more resiliently, with footfall down 26.8 per cent.

“Not even Black Friday could loosen the grim grip of lockdown, which wiped out footfall on the high street in November,” Shoppertrak retail consultant Andy Sumpter said.

“Forced to close just at the time they needed to capitalise on Christmas trade, the real test now comes as those retailers can reopen.”

Elsewhere, new figures from accountancy firm BDO showed a rise in retail sales during November, despite lockdown measures.

BDO’s monthly high street sales tracker reported a 3.3 per cent increase in sales amid heavy discounting for Black Friday.

Like-for-like lifestyle sales improved by 17.6 per cent in November as people did their Christmas shopping early.

However, like-for-like fashion sales slid by 5.7 per cent.

“Retailers will need to make the most of every opportunity as lockdown lifts and the Christmas trading season reaches its zenith in December,” BDO head of retail Sophie Michael said.

“While November results were promising, the figures have been heavily impacted by widespread discounting and lockdown’s knock-on effect on in-store sales and strong online demand.

“As we head into 2021, more store closures are sadly imminent and brands that survive will be those that capitalise on digital channel investment and adapt their store portfolio quickly to changing consumer behaviour.

“The overall picture for the high street in 2020 looks bleak, but retailers have shown immense resilience, and some have even proven in the most turbulent times there are success stories to be found.”

with PA Wires

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