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Retail demand falls despite increases upon initial reopening

UK retail footfall improved between May and June, but with a yearly decrease of 56.6%, the figures are under half the amount experienced in 2019

Footfall levels in the UK for June were half the level documented in 2019, decreasing by 56.6% on last year. This is according to data published by Springboard, the leading provider of activity and insights in the bricks and mortar retail sector. 

However, while this may make for disappointing reading for the industry, June’s figures were a considerable increase on the year-on-year decline experienced in May, which was 73.3%.

But the situation changed during the first week of retail stores being open again in England and Northern Ireland, with footfall increasing by 40% compared to the week before. This sent the yearly decrease to 50% during the second half of the month. 

Central London – the area with the highest volumes of footfall in the entirety of the UK –  saw an 80.8% drop in footfall compared to 2019.

When looking at the figures for specific types of retail locations, the data is comparable – shopping centres have seen a 62.3% decline in footfall, while high street footfall has dropped by 65.1%. In contrast, retail park footfall decreased by only 32.2%.

Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard, comments: “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.”

Wehrle adds: “Whilst footfall in retail parks rose by less than that in high streets or shopping centres in the week when non-essential retail reopened, the rate of decline in retail parks on an annual basis, is still around half of that in the other two destination types. 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.”

Scarlett Cook
Scarlett Cook

Scarlett writes about a wide range of topics on the site, from business security to digital marketing and EPOS systems. She can also be found writing about diversity and sustainability in business, as well as managing the Just Started profiles.