Retail readies for lockdown
Covering the four weeks 04 – 31 October 2020
According to BRC-ShopperTrak data:
- Year on year UK footfall decreased by 33.5% in October, with a 3.4 percentage point decline from September. This remains below the longer-term 12-month average decline of 32.9%.
- Footfall on high streets declined by 39.3% year on year. This was the worst performing location in October and the worst performing location for the third consecutive month.
- Retail parks saw footfall decrease by 9.3% year on year, below the 3-month average decline of 7.5% but above the 12-month average decline of 19.4%.
- Shopping centre footfall declined by 37.7% year on year. This was just under a two-percentage point decline compared to September but was just above the 12-month average decline of 37.8%.
- Northern Ireland saw the shallowest shopping centre footfall decline of all regions for the fourth consecutive month, with -26.0%. Wales saw the sharpest rate of, at -64.9% as a result of the new restrictions during October. Scotland saw a decline of -33.4%.
- For the three days running up to lockdown (Sunday 1st – Tuesday 3rd November) the footfall decline was -18% which was an improvement on that seen in October as people rushed to the shops ahead of their closure.
Helen Dickinson OBE, chief-executive of British Retail Consortium, said: “While footfall remains well below pre-pandemic levels, the slow recovery since April has come to an end in October with footfall falling across all retail locations. High streets and shopping centres fared much worse as the public shunned city centres in favour of out of town locations with their on-site parking. More recently, the Government’s announcement of a second national lockdown led to a brief resurgence in footfall this week as the public sought to buy much needed items and Christmas gifts before ‘non-essential’ stores were forced to close their doors for a second time.
“Today’s lockdown is likely to see footfall plummet to the depths seen during the previous closures, putting hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk. Despite investment in online and click-and-collect services it is unlikely closed retailers will be able to make up for lost ground. Any extension to the lockdown beyond 3rd December would be catastrophic for ‘non-essential’ retail businesses so we urge the govt to commit to allowing them to reopen from this date safe in the knowledge that the previous reopening did not lead to any spike in infections. Furthermore, the Government must wholeheartedly support those businesses they have forced to close, both now and in the future. With non-food shop sales still 30% down over the last six months, it is vital these retailers do not face a cliff-edge of 100% business rates liability from April 2021.”
Andy Sumpter, retail consultant – EMEA of ShopperTrak, said: “The second wave of coronavirus has turned the tide on retail’s footfall recovery, with October’s figures faltering for the first time since the initial lockdown in Spring.
With local restrictions tightening and the uptick in infection rates, the downturn in consumer confidence saw numbers of shoppers decline further – not even the prospect of Halloween, usually a peak trading period for retailers, could buoy the diminishing shopper traffic on the High Street.
After news of the second lockdown was announced, Sunday 1 November experienced a surge in footfall as consumers rushed into store to pick up essentials and fast-track Christmas shopping. This continued into the week, with shopper traffic up markedly on the previous week.
However, this short-lived upshoot in footfall will do little to console retailers, who have been forced to shut just as they prepare for Christmas, their most crucial trading period. In the first lockdown, we saw shopper traffic bottom out at -85%, and we expect November to follow the same trajectory, meaning retailers now face the prospect of a bleak, rather than a Black Friday.”