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Jul 13, 2020
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Restrictions dented shopper footfall last month after reopening rush

Published
Jul 13, 2020

As June's football figures are fully analysed, it seems that retail didn't benefit as much as it could have done from gradually rising footfall last month.


An early rush was followed by weak footfall in many UK stores



In fact, tracking specialist Springboard said on Monday that “demand for retail withered despite a surge in footfall during the reopening rush”.

And why exactly did footfall tail off very quickly after the initial rush that had been caused by pent-up demand? Springboard thinks that “long queues coupled with a restricted shopping experience due to social distancing could be the contributing factors,” and it added that “this is concerning for the economic recovery path of bricks and mortar retail who are heavily reliant on customer experience”.

The company’s downbeat assessment came as it said that footfall during the month was down 56.6% year-on-year, better than the 73.3% decline during May, but still bad by normal standards. 

Overall footfall declined by 65.1% in high streets, 62.3% in shopping centres and 32.2% in retail parks. But in England and Northern Ireland, it rose by 44.5% and 38.6% in the week of reopening, improving their year-on-year result to around -55% versus -73% in Scotland and Wales.

The first week of the reopening of retail stores in England and Northern Ireland “was a turning point, leading to a rise in footfall across the UK by 40% from the previous week, catapulting the annual decline to -50% in the second half of the month,” we’re told.

But as mentioned, the reopening of stores in large parts of the UK wasn't exactly a catalyst for a physical retail frenzy on the part of consumers. Springboard said that “despite the huge spike in footfall in the week of reopening, in the subsequent two weeks it slowed considerably, to +6.6% and then to +2.4%”.

Key differences between the three destination types the company tracks may provide an early indication for the way forward for bricks mortar retail, it said. “Retail parks continued to be the most resilient with a year-on-year decline of around half of that in other destination types,” the company noted.

So why is this? High streets and shopping centres rely on a blend of shoppers, workers, students, tourists and residents to fuel spending, a large proportion of which are still absent,” Springboard explained. “This, plus advice not to only use public transport for essential travel, means that footfall and sales, will be compromised. This is highlighted most clearly in the results for Central London, which [usually] has the highest footfall volume of any part of the UK and, where footfall remains 80.8% lower than last year”.

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