April footfall improving but won’t return to pre-Covid levels soon – BRC

April footfall improving but won't return to pre-Covid levels soon - BRC
Research shows an overwhelming amount of consumer support for bricks-and-mortar retail, with 71% of shoppers vowing to make a conscious effort to shop in-store.
// Total UK footfall for April remained 40 per cent down on the same month in 2019 despite non-essential retail reopening
// Footfall on high streets was down 43.9% on two years ago, shopping centre footfall was down by 49.8%
// Retail parks were the best performers with footfall decreasing by 30.5% on April 2019

Retailers are unlikely to see a return to pre-pandemic footfall “anytime soon” despite the beginnings of a recovery after non-essential shops reopened last month, figures suggest.

Total UK footfall for April remained 40 per cent down on the same month in 2019 despite lockdown on non-essential retail being lifted throughout the month, according to BRC-Sensormatic IQ figures.

Footfall improved across all retail sites compared to the lockdown months, although retail parks continued to fare better than shopping centres and high streets as they benefited from large stores, more space and on-site parking.


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Footfall on high streets was down 43.9 per cent on two years ago but an improvement on the three-month average decline of 61.2 per cent.

Retail parks saw footfall decrease by 30.5 per cent on 2019, a 6.3 percentage point improvement from the previous month and above the three-month average decline of 35.4 per cent, while shopping centre footfall was down by 49.8 per cent on two years ago.

Northern Ireland saw the steepest footfall decline of all nations at 55.4 per cent compared to 2019, possibly because non-essential retail could not reopen until the end of April.

This was followed by Scotland with a decline of 52.1 per cent on April 2019. It exited lockdown on April 26.

Being the first two countries to lift lockdown on non-essential retail on April 12, footfall England declined 38.4 per cent while Wales saw the shallowest decline at 38.2 per cent on April 2019.

“While shops have worked incredibly hard to provide consumers with a safe and enjoyable shopping experience, it is unlikely we will see a return to pre-pandemic levels of footfall anytime soon, as social distancing measures naturally restrict retailers’ capacity,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson, said.

“Growing consumer demand and footfall in the months ahead will be vital for the survival of many retailers, as they start to see costs increasing as stores reopen and colleagues return from furlough.

“With full business rates relief ending in England in June, the ongoing rates review needs to deliver on its objectives to reform the broken rates system and reduce the financial pressures on retailers, otherwise many stores and viable jobs will be under threat.”

Andy Sumpter, from Sensormatic Solutions, said: “April’s reopening of retail saw a welcome boost for the high street.

“While footfall still remains 40 per cent down compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019, consumer demand signals for a return to in-store shopping were promising.

“Despite occupancy limits restricting the numbers of customers allowed inside, shoppers happily braved long queues to get back in-store and shop their favourite brands in real life, after months confined to shopping from behind a screen.

“Our research shows an overwhelming amount of consumer support for bricks-and-mortar retail, with 71 per cent of shoppers vowing to make a conscious effort to shop in-store now retail’s reopened, with many having missed the experience of in-store shopping when lockdown shuttered shops and others saying screen fatigue had set in.

“Retailers will be counting on shoppers acting on that sentiment and voting with their feet to support the shops that serve their communities.”

with PA Wires

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1 COMMENT

  1. Retail needs several things, the end to social distancing to increase capacity , reduced and realistic rents and rates reform . It’s that simple but I doubt it will happen, landlords will cling to the over valued and nostalgic rent demands and councils need the revenue so until we have a real grown up and honest review from top to bottom high street retail will slowly decline.

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