Retail footfall suffers greatest ever decline as shoppers stay at home

Shopping destinations saw their largest ever decline in footfall last month as shoppers stayed at home amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to new figures.

Springboard’s latest monthly footfall monitor revealed a “decline of unprecedented magnitude” in April, as the number of people at retail sites plummeted by 80.1%.

The slump was almost double the level of the downturn in March, which posted 41.3% decline as the lockdown came into force part-way through the month.

Retail parks were the least affected by the lockdown restrictions in April, the report said, but still saw footfall dive by 68.1%.

The presence of supermarkets and wide-open spaces which allowed for better social distancing meant retail parks performed slightly better than other areas.

Meanwhile, high streets reported a decline of 83.3%, while shopping centre footfall slid by 84.8% for the month.

The data revealed that footfall shifted away from large towns and cities towards smaller local shopping areas, with the most modest drops in footfall coming in smaller towns or areas.

Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard, said: “Whilst this is somewhat inevitable given the closure of all but essential stores, it is perhaps indicative of consumers getting into a new rhythm around shopping and working from home.

“Additionally, the overriding focus on safe shopping and the greater emphasis on community that has come to the fore means that trips to larger towns and cities have been curtailed.

“Indeed, it is the first evidence available that suggests how consumers may respond to easing of restrictions.

“In contrast to pre-coronavirus days, when small high streets were facing an increasing struggle to attract shoppers, the path of recovery for retail may well be led by smaller high streets which can offer both safety and community benefits.”

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