Monday 13 July 2020 12:01 am

High street footfall suffers even as retail starts to reopen

The woes of the British high street continued as June footfall dropped to less than half the level of last year, even as stores started to reopen. 

June saw an annual decline of 56.6 per cent in June, according to data from retail intelligence firm Springboard, but it was a marked improvement on the year-on-year decline in May, of 73.3 per cent. 

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It was helped by the easing of lockdown restrictions in early June which led to a rise in footfall across the UK by 40 per cent from the previous week. 

However consumers’ pent up anticipation slowed in the subsequent two weeks, from up 6.6 per cent in the first week after reopening to +2.4 per cent in the second. 

Diane Wehrle, Springboard Insights director said: “Long queues coupled with a restricted shopping experience due to social distancing could be the contributing factors to this sudden drop off in footfall. This is concerning for the economic recovery path of bricks and mortar retail who are heavily reliant on customer experience.”

The retail data shows the fundamental differences between the three destination types, which Wehrle suggests could provide an early indication of the way forward for bricks and mortar retail. 

Between 31 May and 4 July, footfall declined by -65.1 per cent on the high street, according to Springboard data. It was down -62.3 per cent in shopping centres and 32.2 per cent in retail parks. 

The resilience of retail parks has been “due to the presence of food stores and also homeware stores that opened ahead of non-essential retail” said Wehrle. 

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“The fact that retail parks are easily accessible by car, they are open air and comprise large spacious stores, makes them more appealing to consumers during the phases of easing lockdown restrictions,” she added. 

In London, footfall was 70.4 per cent lower on the high street, compared to just a 21.6 per cent drop in retail parks. This was largely due to the impact of Central London “which has seen the largest drop in footfall of any city centre in the UK due to the loss of workers and tourists” according to Wehrle. 

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