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Christmas footfall highest since pandemic began

Footfall reached its highest level since the start of the pandemic in December, says the BRC.

According to the latest BRC-Sensormatic IQ Footfall Monitor for December 2022, total UK footfall decreased by 7.3% in December (Yo3Y – against pre-Covid), 6 percentage points better than November. This is better than the 3-month average decline of 10.2%.

High Streets footfall declined by 9.3% in December (Yo3Y), 4.3 percentage points better than last month’s rate and better than the 3-month average decline of 11.0%.

Retail Parks saw footfall decrease by 5.2% (Yo3Y), 1.0 percentage points worse than last month’s rate and worse than the 3-month average decline of 4.5%.

Shopping Centre footfall declined by 19.9% (Yo3Y), 3.3 percentage points better than last month’s rate and an improvement on the 3-month average decline of 20.9%.

Northern Ireland saw the shallowest footfall decline of all nations and regions at -3.0%, followed by England at -8.7% and Wales at -9.6%. Scotland saw the steepest decline at -9.9%.

On a YoY basis, Total footfall increased by 15.1%; High Streets by 19.7% and Shopping Centres by 13.4%. Retail Parks down by 1.6%.

 Total UK footfall for 2022 was 11.8% below pre-pandemic levels. This was a big improvement on 2021 footfall which was 33.2% below pre-pandemic levels.  

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “A combination of rail disruption and the cold snap kept many shoppers from visiting town centres and high streets in the last week before Christmas. Meanwhile, the postal strikes forced others to head in for the last week to secure last minute gifts in-store.

“Historically low consumer confidence and 30-year-high inflation made for an exceptionally difficult year for consumers and retailers, with footfall down over 10% on pre-pandemic levels. Nonetheless, this was still a significant improvement on the previous two years when the pandemic kept many people at home. Although retailers’ input costs show little sign of easing in 2023, they continue to do all they can to keep prices affordable and tempt customers in.”

Andy Sumpter, Retail Consultant EMEA for Sensormatic Solutions, commented: “Physical retail rallied in December, with store performance last month posting its best footfall counts compared to pre-pandemic figures all year.  Retailers rose above an onslaught of festive disruption, from snow chaos to rail and mail strikes impacting consumers’ shopping journeys both on- and off-line, disrupting pre-Christmas travel to shopping hubs and creating online delivery backlogs and delays. 

“And, once again, it was the in-store teams that kept retailers’ doors open and able to continue to serve their customers and communities. Looking ahead to 2023, retailers will be hoping for more stability and support to help them chart a trading course for success in the light of continued economic headwinds, as they adapt their retail offers to the needs of the cost-of-living consumer.”

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