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High Street footfall down by almost half in 2020, says report

Shopper’s footfall fell by almost half in 2020, according to a new report from the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

The figures featured in the BRC’s ShopperTrak Footfall Monitor for December 2020.

Key findings include:

  • Total year on year footfall for 2020 fell by 43.4%.
  • Year on year UK Footfall decreased by 46.1% in November, a 19.3 percentage point improvement from November when England was under lockdown.
  • Footfall on High Streets declined by 49.5% year on year. This was the worst performing location type for the fifth consecutive month.
  • Retail Parks saw footfall decrease by 17.3% year on year, slightly better than the 3-month average decline of 17.8% and worse than the 12-month average decline of 23.8%.
  • Shopping Centre footfall declined by 47.3% year on year. This was just over a twenty-four-percentage point decline compared to October and was just below the 12-month average decline of 47.4%.
  • Northern Ireland saw the shallowest footfall decline of all regions at -47.2%, followed by Scotland at -50.2%. Wales saw a decline of -52.3.1%.
  • The Golden quarter saw nearly half the footfall (a decline of 48.4%) compared to the same period in 2019.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief-Executive of British Retail Consortium, said: “After an encouraging start to the month Christmas shopper numbers dwindled as December progressed, due in large part to the creation of Tier 4 in England and increased restrictions elsewhere in the UK. High streets and shopping centres continued to see the most substantial decline in shoppers, as their ‘non-essential’ tenants were forced to close their doors during the weeks leading up to and following Christmas. London, the South East and Wales were hardest hit, with footfall dropping by over four fifths in the final week. However, it has been a hard year for the entire country, with footfall down by 43% in 2020 compared to the previous year.

“Now that all parts of the UK are effectively in lockdown and with social distancing measures expected to continue well into the New Year, ‘non-essential’ stores will be unable to trade their way back to recovery. A third lockdown will be one too many for some businesses. Rent bills continue to weigh heavily and the threat of a return to full business rates liability in April still looms. The Government must urgently reassure those businesses hardest hit by the pandemic that they will receive vital financial support in the form of an extension to the coronavirus business rates relief.”

Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO, added:  “These figures are a clear indication the impact of lockdowns and Covid-19. Even when shops were open, the high streets (where most independent retailers are located) were only operating at 70% of the normal footfall. The situation has made retailers even more vulnerable than they might normally have been at this time of year, and that is why we believe the Government support measures do not go far enough. Furthermore, if ever the Government needed evidence that business rates need removing for non-essential retail in 2021/22, here it is.”

Download the full report here

Additional Guidance and Resources

Report: Scottish retail ‘hammered’ by November’s lockdown

BRC report: Lockdown ‘put brakes on’ retail growth in November

Reopening Retail: Take Two

Bira fights for indie retailers in meeting with business minister

Bira urges shoppers to get back on to the high street

Bira’s 5-step guide to Covid-secure reopening

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