// Footfall in May was down 27.7% compared to 2019, BRC’s latest Footfall Monitor says
// But compared to the previous month in April, footfall improved 12.3%
UK footfall increased in May as Covid-19 restrictions continue to ease, but they’re still not at the same levels as they were before the pandemic.
According to the latest BRC-Sensormatic Footfall Monitor, total UK footfall decreased by 27.7 per cent in May when compared to the same month in 2019, but it enjoyed a 12.3 percentage point improvement from April as it marked the first full month since all UK nations lifted lockdown for non-essential retail.
The BRC stated that because 2020 was a turbulent year in which much of UK retail “bounced between being open and closed” and footfall was impacted significantly, its year-on-year figures are compared with those in 2019 pre-pandemic.
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The BRC said that compared to 2019, footfall on high streets declined by 34.6 per cent in May, while retail parks saw footfall decrease by 19.9 per cent and shopping centre footfall declined by 41.3 per cent.
Northern Ireland saw the shallowest footfall decline of all UK nations at 14.9 per cent, followed by Scotland at 24.7 per cent, England at 28.5 per cent, and then Wales at 30.1 per cent.
“May saw footfall levels improve across the UK’s high streets, retail parks and shopping centres,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.
“This was in part due to the further easing of Covid restrictions, including the reopening of indoor hospitality, which enticed consumers back to shopping locations knowing they could grab a drink or something to eat whilst enjoying a spot of retail therapy.
“The successful vaccination roll-out has also boosted consumer confidence and contributed to the improvement in footfall.
“However, restrictions on travel have denied many businesses, particularly those in our larger town and city centres, of vital overseas tourist spending.
“Nonetheless, footfall levels are still significantly down on two years ago. Many high streets have an increasing number of vacant shops, and many retailers still face significant and mounting debts, and with £2.9 billion in unpaid rents built up over the pandemic.
“The government should ringfence these lockdown rent debts to provide the breathing space for footfall and cash flows to recover, and enable landlords and tenants to work on equitable and long-term solutions for the future and avert terminal decline in many communities.”