Jan 7, 2021
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​2020 ends with a whimper as lockdowns devastate post-Christmas footfall

Jan 7, 2021

There’s an air of inevitability when it comes to UK footfall figures in these dark days of physical retail. So no surprises that shopper numbers for the week commencing 27 December plummeted 72.3% on a year ago.

Photo: Jamie Musialek/Pixabay

The introduction of tougher Covid-19 restrictions kept shoppers away from post-Christmas sales in the last week of December meaning that instead of  the usual flourish, “2020 has ended instead in a quiet whimper”, Ipsos Retail Performance said Thursday.

Footfall across the full four weeks after lockdown was lifted on 3 December fell 53.7% year-on-year, according to its latest Retail Traffic Index.

Areas with toughest local restrictions were hit hardest and, without giving a breakdown of performance, Ipsos said stores in Northern England suffered the least, but still a substantial 44.8% down on a year ago.

Dr Tim Denison, director of retail intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance, said: “The widescale re-opening of non-essential stores from 3 December as part of the lift from lockdown was designed to help households enjoy some semblance of a normal Christmas and New Year, but the rapid transmission of the new strain of Covid-19 during December prevented this from happening”.

Looking ahead, Denison added: “With trading figures being announced over the next week or so, we can but hope that online sales have helped salvage the performance of most non-essential goods retailers.

“No doubt the headlines will be grabbed by those that end up failing, but in truth they should be about celebrating all those retailers that have not just made it through the year, but have managed to adapt at speed, adjust their business models and became re-energised”.

He added: “Going into another lockdown at the start of the new year won’t be easy for many to weather, but let’s be thankful for the digital technology that has saved retail and enables retailers to continue to serve their customers, until such a time as we can all enjoy physical retailing safely again.”

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