UK festive footfall provides strongest figures since pandemic

Footfall in the UK over the festive period was the strongest since the COVID pandemic began, with retail footfall last month rising 15 per cent from a year before.

This is according to the latest figures from the British Retail Consortium-Sensormatic IQ monitor.

It showed that, despite the hit from rail strikes and the pre-Christmas cold snap, footfall in high streets rose 20 per cent year-on-year, and by 13 per cent in shopping centres. However, retail park footfall fell by 1.6 per cent.

And for 2022 as a whole, footfall was still almost 12 per cent down on pre-pandemic levels (2019 figures), yet there was still an improvement from 2021, which was 33 per cent behind.

By city, the BRC reported that Belfast and Manchester saw uplifts in their footfall, at 9.3 and 2.6 per cent respectively, while Bristol and London saw the deepest declines, down 11.4 and 12.3 repsectively.

Absolute UK retail footfall 2019-2022 (BRC-Sensormatic IQ)

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.

“Nonetheless, this was still a significant improvement on the previous two years when the pandemic kept many people at home.”

Andy Sumpter, Retail Consultant EMEA for Sensormatic Solutions, added that retailers rose above an onslaught of festive disruption and 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,” he said, “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.”