Monday 18 May 2020 8:34 am

Visitor numbers at UK shopping destinations dive in coronavirus lockdown

The number of visitors to UK shopping destinations collapsed last month during the coronavirus lockdown, according to the latest research.

UK footfall plunged 84.7 per cent in April, a record decline for the retail industry, due to the mandatory coronavirus lockdown that forced shops to close and restricted the movement of consumers. 

Read more: High street suffers biggest ever decline in footfall as Brits obey lockdown

Shopping centre footfall plummeted 87.8 per cent year on year. They were the worst affected location due to enclosed spaces making social distancing harder. 

High street footfall was down 81.8  per cent year on year. They fared better than shopping centres due to the rise in population of local convenience stores. 

Footfall at retail parks fell 62.4 per cent, as the higher proportion of supermarkets helped to protect them from a steeper decline, according to the latest survey by the British Retail Consortium and Shoppertrak. 

“With lower footfall likely to continue, along with a corresponding fall in sales, and with demand likely to remain low, many retailers will not return to normal trading for some time, even when they are allowed to reopen,” said BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson.

“We will see an acceleration of many trends seen prior to the coronavirus pandemic – lower footfall as many consumers choose to browse digitally, and a corresponding rise in online sales. 

“These changes are requiring retailers to adapt quickly so that the industry can meet the needs of modern consumers and deal with the challenges the pandemic is presenting. 

Read more: US retail sales drop at record pace amid coronavirus shutdown

“Ultimately, the very nature of many retail jobs will change, with impressive customer service and the effective use of technology becomes even more vital.”

Separate research by analysts Springboard found that footfall at the UK’s retail destinations increased 3.3 per cent in the first week after lockdown measures were lifted.