Encouraging improvement to UK footfall

UK footfall showed signs of encouragement as shoppers returned outdoors, boosted by the good weather.

According to the latest BRC-Sensormatic IQ data, total UK footfall decreased by 13.1% in April, a 2.3 percentage point improvement from March. This is better than the 3-month average decline of 15.1%. 

This was also ahead of France (-23.4%), Germany (-27.6%) and Italy (-36.4%) in April against last year. 

Footfall on High Streets declined by 17.2% in April, 0.6 percentage points better than last month’s rate and an improvement on the 3-month average decline of 18.4%.

Retail Parks saw footfall decrease by 4.0%, 3.3 percentage points better than last month’s rate and an improvement on the 3-month average decline of 7.2%.

Shopping Centre footfall declined by 27.6%, 8.2 percentage points better than last month’s rate and an improvement on the 3-month average decline of 34.5%.

Northern Ireland again saw the shallowest footfall decline of all nations at -11.7%, followed by England at -12.7% and Wales at -13.8%. Scotland again saw the steepest decline at -14.8%. 

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief-Executive of British Retail Consortium, said: “April saw another encouraging improvement to UK footfall, as the spring sunshine and Easter festivities brought consumers back to stores. After a slow start for footfall in April, as the weather improved, customers were more inclined to visit their favourite shopping destinations. Retail parks and shopping centres experienced the biggest improvement to footfall, as the public visited locations with the largest mix of shops to scope out the best deals.

“While footfall continues to make its return towards pre-pandemic levels, consumer confidence saw a different trend, falling to its lowest levels since the 2008 financial crisis. Shoppers are now being forced to make tough decisions in the face of rising inflation and higher energy prices, exacerbated further by the war in Ukraine. This threatens to stall improvements to footfall, as consumers reign in their discretionary spending. Retailers will have to work twice as hard to sustain customer loyalty and engagement.”

Andy Sumpter, Retail Consultant EMEA for Sensormatic Solutions, commented: “With total UK footfall recovering to its highest point this year compared to pre-pandemic levels, the UK leads the way across the G7 nations in terms of returning in-store shopper traffic.  At face value, this is all positive and welcome news for retailers as the UK footfall recovery continues, however, it comes with a caveat that this only captures store visits, rather than reflecting what’s being rung through the tills. 

“As UK shoppers feel the pinch of the rising cost-of-living and face downward pressures on their disposable incomes, conversions and basket sizes risk being reduced, so retailers – especially non-Discounters or value brands – will need to work even harder to earn share of wallet and shopper loyalty in-store.”

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