Footfall goes from “bad to worse” in January

BRC-ShopperTrak Helen Dickinson Andy Sumpter
Footfall in England dropped by a colossal 82% during the first lockdown
// Footfall dropped 78% year-on-year in England in the 4 weeks to January 30, 2021
// Northern Ireland reported the shallowest footfall decline of all regions
// Wales saw the deepest decline at 79.1%

New research has found that footfall went from “bad to worse” in January, as retail destinations continue to be hit harder by the impact of Covid-19 than the previous lockdown.

In the four weeks to January 30, 2021, footfall declined by 78 per cent year-on-year, compared to a 76 per cent decline during the second lockdown (November 5 to December 2) across England.

Footfall in England dropped by a colossal 82 per cent during the first lockdown, which took place from March 23, 2020, to June 15, 2020, BRC-ShopperTrak found.

READ MORE: January footfall drops 65.6% but recovers since first lockdown

Footfall on high streets declined by 73.3 per cent year on year, the deepest decline since May 2020, when footfall dropped 77.8 per cent.

This is worse than both the three and 12-month average declines of 59.8 per cent and 51.3 per cent, respectively.

Retail Parks saw footfall decrease by 40.9 per cent year on year, while shopping centre footfall declined by 78.2 per cent year on year.

Northern Ireland reported the shallowest footfall decline of all regions, with a 66.4 per cent decline in footfall, followed by Scotland at 72.5 per cent.

Meanwhile, Wales saw the deepest decline at 79.1 per cent.

“Footfall went from bad to worse in January, dropping by over three quarters,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.

“So far, retail locations in England are being hit harder than in the previous lockdown. Under tight restrictions for the whole month, shopping centres saw the biggest decline in footfall of all retail locations, overtaking high streets for the first time since July 2020.

“The drop in footfall clearly shows the public heeding government advice to stay home where possible. Retailers have also been playing their part, stepping up safety measures wherever possible in order to keep staff and customers safe.

“Nonetheless, the future uncertainty for closed retailers puts many jobs and stores at risk. In the face of rising rents and return to full business rates liability from April, businesses are having to make business decisions about their future.

“Government must reassure those hardest hit by the pandemic that they will receive vital financial support.

“Without urgent action, including a targeted extension to business rates relief, we will continue to see the collapse of more stores and consequent loss of many more thousands of jobs.”

ShopperTrak retail consultant EMEA Andy Sumpter said: “With the first full month of a new national lockdown, January certainly won’t have been the start to the year retailers were hoping for, as once more they had to shut up shop and inevitably footfall plummeted.

“But while it’s easy to let shuttered stores paint a bleak picture for the future of the high street – with many retailers now having faced almost a full year of store reopenings and closures as waves of Covid-19 have ebbed and flowed – it’s important to remember that when retail has reopened from lockdown, demand for in-store shopping has returned each time.

“And while the pandemic may have accelerated ‘Retail Darwinism’, those that have used this time as an opportunity to reset and invest in the operational foundations to meet new demands will be well placed to capitalise on pent-up demand for the in-person shopping experiences we have all been missing, as well as setting themselves up for strong, long-term growth.”

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