UK footfall continues on slow recovery path following pandemic

UK footfall slowed in August but did continue its modest recovery towards pre-pandemic levels.

According to the latest BRC-Sensormatic IQ Footfall Monitor for August 2022, total UK footfall decreased by 12.4% in August (Yo3Y), a 1.8 percentage point improvement from July. This is worse than the 3-month average decline of 12.3%.

Since the pandemic started, much of retail has bounced between being open and closed, impacting footfall significantly. To make meaningful comparisons to changes in footfall, all figures are compared to their pre-pandemic (2019) levels. This means 2022 figures are year-on-three-years (Yo3Y).

Footfall on High Streets declined by 13.6% in August (Yo3Y), 2.3 percentage points better than last month’s rate and an improvement on the 3-month average decline of 14.5%.

Retail Parks saw footfall decrease by 4.1% (Yo3Y), 5.0 percentage points better than last month’s rate and an improvement on the 3-month average decline of 8.6%.

Shopping Centre footfall declined by 22.7% (Yo3Y), 2.1 percentage points better than last month’s rate and above the 3-month average decline of 23.6%.

England saw the shallowest footfall decline of all the nations at -11.2%, followed by Northern Ireland at -11.5% and Wales at -13.1%. Scotland again saw the steepest decline at -14.8%.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Whilst footfall in August continued its modest recovery towards pre-pandemic levels, the rate of improvement slowed. Many people remain concerned about the rising cost-of-living and the price of their energy bills, which has kept them away from visiting high streets and town centres.

“With consumer confidence at historic lows, stores continue to focus on converting customer footfall into retail sales. Big events in Birmingham and Edinburgh saw more notable advancements to footfall, as the Commonwealth Games and the Edinburgh Fringe brought more shoppers in.

“September brings a new Prime Minister and new government with a difficult task ahead. To help retailers keep prices as low as possible, the government should include a freeze in the business rates multiplier next year on the to do list, otherwise the 10 percent inflationary increase in rates bills will lead to higher prices for customers.”

Andy Sumpter, Retail Consultant EMEA for Sensormatic Solutions, commented: “Despite the heatwave and the ongoing train strikes cooling shopper numbers for periods during the month, August footfall on the whole remained resilient with performance improving against pre-pandemic levels compared to July, boosted in part by August staycations and rising tourist numbers returning. 

“However, whilst the outlook for August remained cheery, retailers will be looking ahead to the Autumn – and retail’s Golden Quarter of Christmas trading – with an air of caution as the cost-of-living crisis continues to play out, and they await to see what packages of support will be offered to consumers the ease the burden on household budgets once the new PM is announced next week.”

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