UK footfall edged higher each week in June
The latest footfall figures from Ipsos Retail Performance show that shoppers have been approaching the high street with caution as stores reopen.
With around 60% of non-essential stores in England having opened on June 15 and having new Covid-conscious operating models in place, some 40% of those polled for the Ipsos Covid Tracking Survey said they remained uncomfortable about shopping in stores other than supermarkets.
So it’s no surprise that shopper numbers in non-food stores ended the first reopening day down by 62.7% overall year-on-year and by 38.4% on a like-for-like basis.
Non-essential stores in Northern Ireland had already been given the green light to reopen from June 12, while stores in Wales and Scotland had to wait until June 22 and 29 respectively until the devolved governments approved the easing of their lockdown plans.
Looking at June in general, but only at the weeks when stores were open again, the average weekly footfall in the UK was down by 65.7% overall with each of the three weeks seeing a slight narrowing of the year-on-year deficit.
And Ipsos said footfall was strongest in retail parks, although the variation wasn’t huge and these locations were still down more than 60%.
Dr Tim Denison, director of Retail Intelligence at the firm, said: “Thankfully the reopening programmes have largely gone very smoothly and this has been reflected in progressively more shoppers venturing out week-by-week, reassured by their own experiences and those shared by others. We still have a long way to go, however. With the social distancing guidelines in place, customer capacities have been reduced significantly in stores, even with the relaxation from 2m to ‘1+m’ in England, and this obviously impacts on every store’s footfall potential.”
But he added that it’s still hard to asses exactly what the impact on retailers’ bottom lines will be.
“Quite what ‘good’ looks like for a year-on-year comparator for store footfall is difficult to ascertain at the moment,” he explained. “If store journeys become shorter as trips become more destination-oriented than casual browsing experiences, then a delta of -30% would appear healthy, as customer capacity constraints would be offset by greater throughput”.
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