UK footfall recovery remained sluggish ahead of Super Saturday

The BRC’s Helen Dickinson OBE is hopeful that the Chancellor will announce measures to boost consumer demand in tomorrow’s address

Written by Georgie Dobie

Posted 07.07.2020 | Retail

UK footfall recovery remained sluggish ahead of Super Saturday thumbnail

BRC has said that footfall remained sluggish in the week leading up to the reopening of pubs, restaurants, cinemas and hair salons.

According to a special release of the BRC-ShopperTrak Footfall Monitor covering the week ending 4 July, overall footfall in the UK decreased by 49.6 per cent year-on-year, compared to the 53.4 per cent year-on-year decrease recorded for the previous week. 

The latest data considers the third full week since ‘non-essential’ retailers were able to reopen in England and Northern Ireland, and the first week since lockdown restrictions were lifted on ‘non-essential’ shops in all UK countries after Scotland became the last to ease its lockdown restrictions on ‘non-essential’ retail. 

Shops in England reopened on 15 June, in Northern Ireland on 12 June, in Scotland (mostly) on 29 June, and in Wales on 22 June.  

Saturday 4 July has become recognised as ‘Super Saturday’, following the reopening of pubs, restaurants, cafes, museums, libraries and hairdressers in England.  

On ‘Super Saturday,’ the BRC reported that UK footfall for shops rose by 9.2 per cent on the previous week. According to the BRC, this was the smallest week-on-week rise for any day that week – the average rise was 15.3 per cent, with high streets and shopping centres showing higher rises than for retail parks. 

Footfall on high streets declined by 55.7 per cent year-on-year for the week covering 28 June to 4 July. This represents a slight improvement on the previous week, which saw a year-on-year decrease of 58.1 per cent. 

Meanwhile, retail parks saw footfall decrease by 24.6 per cent year-on-year – again a slight improvement on the previous week, which had seen a year-on-year decrease of 28.4 per cent. 

Finally, shopping centre footfall declined by 56.1 per cent year-on-year. This compares to a decrease of 60.7 per cent year-on-year for the previous week. 

Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “It remains a long way back to normality for the retail industry; two weeks after most shops reopened in England, footfall is still only half what it was a year ago.  

“The reopening of pubs, cafés and other hospitality businesses this Saturday does not appear to have benefited shops much, with the Saturday showing more modest growth than the days prior to these locations reopening.  

“By European standards, the UK’s recovery remains slow, and while safety measures introduced by retailers have been well received by customers, many shoppers are still reluctant to visit physical shopping locations. 

“On Wednesday, the Chancellor should announce measures to boost consumer demand – without it, the UK risks becoming an economic laggard in its coronavirus recovery. With the first shop closures being announced, the Government must act fast to protect the three million retail jobs, as well as millions more throughout the supply chain.” 

Speaking of the latest data, Andy Sumpter, retail consultant – EMEA of ShopperTrak, said: "Last week saw the one of the last pieces of the retail recovery puzzle fall into place as England opened up its hospitality sector. Understandably there is a lot of noise around pubs opening their doors, but retailers and property owners will be far more interested in seeing an uplift in traffic as a consequence of cafés and restaurants reopening.  

“This didn’t really happen on Saturday, with a modest week-on-week gain of 9.2 per cent, against an overall week gain of 15.3 per cent. The UK’s recovery rate is still trending behind that of its European peers, with last week’s footfall being around half of what it was in 2019.   

"Those shoppers that make it out to the high street, retail parks, or shopping centres are more likely to be shopping with a purpose now, but with restricted numbers being allowed in, the pressure is still on. Retailers are serving less people, with greater overheads, so are of course looking to technology to assist with occupancy levels and social distancing. If you can free colleagues to help customers find what they want faster, they will be better utilised than standing at the door counting people." 

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