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Footfall in July stalls, but end of lockdown yet to play out, says BRC

Where is the footfall?

Footfall across the UK stalled in July, falling 28% when compared to the same period in 2019, pre-pandemic. There was a 0.4% drop from June, below the three-month average of 27.7%.

So finds the latest data from BRC-Sensormatic IQ, which finds that footfall on High Streets declined by 34.6% in July (Yo2Y), 1.2 percentage points below last month’s rate and below the 3-month average decline of 34.1%.

Retail Parks saw footfall decrease by 15.0% (Yo2Y), 6.9 percentage points below last month’s rate and below the 3-month average decline of 14.1%. Shopping Centre footfall declined by 38.4% (Yo2Y), 2.6 percentage points below last month’s rate but above the 3-month average decline of 39.1%.

For the third consecutive month, Northern Ireland saw the shallowest footfall decline of all regions at -19.9%, followed by Wales at -25.8% and Scotland at -27.1%.  England saw the deepest decline at -28.7%.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief-Executive of British Retail Consortium, comments: “After improvements in footfall in the early part of 2021, the situation has plateaued with little change in footfall levels for a third month in a row. The turbulent weather, with initial heatwaves giving over to torrential rain, appears to have dampened the mood for shopping in July, with a particularly pronounced fall in footfall at retail parks. However, the last week of July offered a glimmer of hope for retailers as the easing of restrictions lead to the best weekly performance of 2021. Retailers hope this trend will continue as the rise of vaccinations and falling coronavirus case numbers boosts consumer confidence.”

She adds: “Government and businesses must take the opportunity to build back a better future for our local destinations. With the number of empty shopfronts still rising in many parts of the country, it is vital we rebuild our local communities to integrate leisure, retail, services, and homes. For this to be successful, Government must fulfil their commitment to alleviate the unsustainable cost burden placed on retailers by the broken rates system in their upcoming business rates review. This will allow retailers to continue invest in their physical and digital offerings and provide communities with vibrant spaces to visit, work and shop.”

Andy Sumpter, Retail Consultant EMEA for Sensormatic Solutions, says: “With July’s wet weather dampening shoppers’ spirits, High Street footfall stayed subdued as consumers remained cautious.  Even the hotly debated ‘Freedom Day’ failed to significantly shift the dial on shopper counts, perhaps losing some of its ‘shine’ to the EURO’s which brought forward shopping and socialising trips to earlier in the month.  And in a tale of two halves, Freedom Day may have split consumer confidence, with those revelling in newfound freedoms increasing the frequency of their shopping trips, while those concerned about the relaxation of restrictions on social distancing and mask-wearing becoming more inclined to stay away. “

He concludes: “However, while footfall performance was flat compared to June, the trajectory in the second half of July gave cause for more cautious optimism; weekend shopper counts improved by 7 percentage points week-on-week following Freedom Day.  Retailers will now be hoping caution will give way to growing consumer confidence so that they can capitalise on summer trading.”

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