UK footfall declines steeply with second lockdown
Covering the four weeks 01 November – 28 November 2020
According to BRC-ShopperTrak data:
- Year-on-year UK Footfall decreased by 65.4% in November, with a 31.9 percentage point decline from October. This remains below the longer-term 12-month average decline of 38.5%.
- Footfall on High Streets declined by 63.9% year-on-year. This was the worst performing location in November and the worst performing location for the fourth consecutive month.
- Retail Parks saw footfall decrease by 26.8% year-on-year, below both the 3-month average decline of 14.0% and the 12-month average decline of 21.6%.
- Shopping Centre footfall declined by 61.8% year-on-year. This was just over a twenty-four percentage point decline compared to October and was below the 12-month average decline of 42.4%.
- Northern Ireland saw the shallowest Shopping Centre footfall decline of all regions for the sixth consecutive month, with -21.0%, followed by Scotland at -38.9%. Wales saw a decline of -45.6%.
- In England, non-essential shops and other businesses were permitted to reopen on the 2ndDecember for the first time in four weeks. On this day, footfall increased by 150% compared with the previous week (25th November), and decreased -26% on the previous year.
Helen Dickinson OBE, chief-executive of British Retail Consortium, said: “Footfall plummeted once again as England underwent its second national lockdown in November. 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.
“After two lockdowns in England, and a shortened Christmas trading period, many retailers are feeling the pressure in the final weeks of the year. ‘Non-essential’ retailers face mounting rent bills on top of a return to full business rates liability from April 2021. The Government must address this by extending the moratorium on debt enforcement, giving retailers and landlords more time to negotiate, and extending rates relief for the worst affected businesses into next year. Without this, parts of the industry face the stark reality of being unable to pay their bills, resulting in further job losses and store closures, and setting back any wider economic recovery.”
Andy Sumpter, retail consultant – EMEA of ShopperTrak, said: “Not even Black Friday could loosen the grim grip of lockdown, which wiped out footfall on the High Street in November. Forced to close just at the time they needed to capitalise on Christmas trade, the real test now comes as those retailers can reopen.
“Re-instilling consumer confidence in the safety of stores is key to ensuring shoppers return, as well as using extended opening hours, with some retailers trading 24/7 in December, to reduce the pressure on the store network and improve customer-experience.
“Retailers have already invested heavily in keeping shoppers safe so they can continue to support the communities they serve. Now they are reliant on the public investing in them by voting with their feet and choosing to ‘use or lose’ the retail businesses on their High Street.”