Retail footfall falls further from pre-pandemic levels

by | Aug 5, 2021

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Retail footfall worsened further compared to pre-pandemic numbers in July, a new survey revealed on Thursday, even after the number of shoppers improved between the second and third week of the month when restrictions were lifted in England.
Retail analysts Springboard said footfall worsened over the month as a whole to -24.2% when compared to July 2019, from -22.2% in June.

It said footfall declined from the year before the outbreak of Covid-19 by -30.5% in high streets, -30.2% in shopping centres and -4.2% in retail parks.

The acceleration in footfall decline was greater in high streets than in shopping centres; moving from -27.2% in June to -30.5% in July in high streets, while in shopping centres it moved to -30.2% in July from -29.1% in June.

Footfall did rise by 16.5% on so-called ‘Freedom Day’ in England when compared to the same day a week earlier, but it dropped to a “very modest” week-on-week increase, averaging around 3% on the following days of the month.

The number of shoppers was impacted by hot weather in the week of Freedom Day, followed by rain the following week, together with the ‘pingdemic’, which curtailed visits to stores and destinations in case it resulted in them needing to self isolate – a key issue for many people with summer holiday bookings in August, Springboard said.

The vacancy rate for UK retail, meanwhile, rose again to 11.8% in July from 11.5% in April, when it had improved from 11.7% in January.

Vacancy was now at its highest level since April 2013.

“The longer-term impact of Covid-19 on stores and destinations is becoming ever clearer as we track the vacancy rate each quarter,” said Springboard marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle.

“The latest survey has identified that a greater number of stores are shutting their doors permanently; the UK vacancy rate rose once again to 11.8% in July from 11.5% in April, when it had improved from 11.7% in January, and it is now at its highest level since April 2013.”

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