15 July 2020, 09:15 AM
  • The UK retail recovery is said to be “sluggish” compared to European standards but figures show consumers are starting to return to the High Street
Retail footfall on the up after lockdown restrictions ease

The UK high street took a hit in May but new figures show that since 15th June when shops re-opened footfall has risen “significantly”.

Numbers from the BRC-ShopperTrak data covering 31st May to 4th July revealed that while UK footfall decreased by 62.2% when compared year-on-year, it was an increase of 19% from May. In the first two weeks the footfall decline averaged 77.1% but improved to 53.3% in the remaining three weeks once stores were allowed to open in England and Northern Ireland.

As non-essential stores opened again, the High Street has also started to recover. In the final three weeks, the average decline was 58.4%, compared to the 74.5% decline seen in the first two weeks of the month.

Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the BRC commented, “Footfall levels are still well below pre-coronavirus levels; however, the decline was softer than it was in May thanks to the reopening of non-essential retail stores on 15 June. UK recovery has been sluggish, especially compared with European standards, but retailers with stores remain hopeful that the reopening of hospitality will provide a welcome boost.

“The Chancellor’s economic update earlier this week provided critical interventions to protect jobs and incomes for households across the UK. We hope that some of the generous measures taken to support the hospitality industry will benefit footfall for retailers who are in close proximity to restaurants, bars and cafés.”

Andy Sumpter, retail consultant EMEA at ShopperTrak added, “It really was a month of two halves with footfall down 80% at the start of June before rising significantly post re-opening, though still far down on last year.”

Stephen Fleming, owner of George & Joseph cheesemongers, has seen a small increase of customers in June, as well as a drop in online orders. He says, “In June we saw a similar number of customers to May, with a slight increase in customer numbers and average spend per customer. The overall increase in sales compared to May was about 5%.

“We are still seeing an increase in shop sales into July, however we have also seen a drop off in our online delivery orders which peaked mid-May. I suspect there are many factors affecting this – including people getting out more to shop in person and there being other things for people to spend their money on besides cheese! It seems to tie up with the loosening of lockdown.”

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