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Retail footfall drops in September as ‘second wave of pandemic sweeps UK’

The BRC-ShopperTrak Footfall Monitor for September 2020 is now available to download.

Key findings include:

  • Year on year UK Footfall decreased by 30.1% in September, with only a 4.7 percentage point improvement from August. This remains below the longer-term 12-month average decline of 30.3%.
  • Footfall on High Streets declined by 36.9% year on year. It was the most negatively affected location in September, again falling below Shopping centres for the second time since April 2018.
  • Retail parks saw footfall decrease by 6.9% year on year, thanks to wider open spaces in comparison to other locations. In addition, a higher proportion of supermarkets helped to shelter Retail parks from a steeper decline.

Shopping centre footfall declined by 36.1% year on year. This was just over a percentage point shallower than in August but remained below its 12-month average decline of 35.2%.

Helen Dickinson OBE, BRC Chief Executive, said: “As the second wave of the pandemic sweeps the UK and additional restrictions come into force, footfall has steadily dropped during the month as many shoppers chose to stay at home. Despite this, September footfall remains an improvement on the previous month. Retail parks, while down on a year ago, continue to perform significantly better than high streets and shopping centres thanks to the prevalence of supermarket stores and the availability of onsite parking.

“It is likely that rising case numbers and future restrictions may see footfall decline in the coming months. Sales at upcoming holidays, including Halloween and Bonfire night, are also likely to remain muted. Furthermore, with footfall remaining well below pre-coronavirus levels, the Government must act now to provide certainty for business and prevent a cliff-edge of 100% business rates in April 2021. Such action would cripple the retail industry at a crucial moment for its recovery.”

Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO, added: “We are seeing worsening trends on the high streets – footfall falling more than the other shopping venues.

“The potential for closing hospitality and service sectors will have a further detrimental effect on footfall and consumer confidence, driving more people to on-line shopping. Whilst it is right to support the hospitality sector, the government also needs to remember that the fragile retail sector is also affected by any new restrictions and requires ongoing support if these businesses are to survive a very hard winter period. In the short terms we would like to see clear messages that shopping is safe.

“We would like to see VAT reduction extended to retail and an incentive for people to shop out to help out. In the longer terms there needs to be a decision on extending the business rates holiday as Covid19 will clearly extend into 2021.”

Read the full report here

Additional Guidance and Resources: 

Bira backs £60m fund to make shopping even safer

Bira calls for extension to business rates holiday

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Ellis Whittam Corona Hub