2020 footfall down over 40%, with dismal December data too

It may be no surprise to hear that footfall figures for the whole of last year fell by a staggering 43.4 per cent compared to 2019.

“It has been a hard year for the entire country,” the British Retail Consortium said, and now with another lockdown across the UK, “non-essential stores will be unable to trade their way back to recovery”.

“A third lockdown will be one too many for some businesses,” it said.

This comes after the BRC released its latest BRC-ShopperTrak data showing that footfall decreased by 46.1 per cent across the UK in December year-on-year – covering the five weeks 29 November 2020 to 2 January 2021, while high streets declined by nearly 50 per cent Y-O-Y – the worst performing location for the fifth consecutive month.

Retail Parks saw a 17.3 per cent drop compared to December 2019, not a bad figure considering shopping centre footfall declined by just over 47 per cent against last year.

Northern Ireland saw the shallowest overall footfall decline of all regions at -47.2 per cent, followed by Scotland at -50.2, while Wales saw a decline of -52.3 per cent.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief-Executive of British Retail Consortium, said: “After an encouraging start to December, Christmas shopper numbers dwindled as the month progressed, due in large part to the creation of Tier 4 in England and increased restrictions elsewhere in the UK.”

London, the South East and Wales were hardest hit, with footfall dropping by over four fifths in the final week, the BRC reported. Cardiff, London, Glasgow and Portsmouth were the worst performing areas.

Ms Dickinson added that the Government must urgently reassure businesses that vital financial support will still be available, like the Coronavirus business rates relief.

“Now that all parts of the UK are in lockdown and with social distancing measures expected to continue, rent bills continue to weigh heavily and the threat of a return to full business rates liability in April still looms.”

Andy Sumpter, Retail Consultant – EMEA of ShopperTrak, commented: “As infection rates soared in December, fears of a mutated virus spread it was really was a case of ‘the strain that stole Christmas’ for retailers.

“In the first two weeks of December, shopper counts were boosted by pent-up demand from November’s lockdown and shoppers’ get-ahead gift buying. While this soon plummeted in the second half of the month, it at least served to save some valuable Christmas trade.”