Shopper footfall slides almost two-thirds amid January lockdown

Henry Saker-Clark, PA City Reporter

Retail footfall plunged by almost two-thirds in January following the latest set of lockdown restrictions, although experts have said shopping locations have fared notably better than during the first UK lockdown.

Research firm Springboard’s monthly footfall monitor revealed that shopper numbers slid by 65.6% across UK shopping destinations in January compared to the same month last year.

But the figures showed that high streets and shopping centres saw a level of footfall decline which was around 10% better than in April, following the first coronavirus lockdown.

Nevertheless, footfall decline for January accelerated from a 41.9% slump in December as tiered measures were replaced with the national lockdown.

Non-essential retailers across the UK remain shut, with only essential stores, such as supermarkets and pharmacies, open to customers.

The restrictive measures have particularly impacted shopping centres, which reported a 73.6% fall in footfall for the month.

The UK’s troubled high streets also suffered a significant fall in shopper numbers, with a decline of 72.6% for the period.

Springboard said both figures showed a shallower decline than in April as health services such as dentists and opticians remained open.

Retail parks were particularly resilient last month, reporting only a 42.1% annual decline.

Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard, said robust retail park footfall “is the first indication of the potential for a bounce back in spending when non-essential retailers reopen”.

She added: “The fact that footfall on retail parks was stronger in January 2021 than in April 2020 is interesting as there is generally a greater uplift in retail park footfall in the spring when many shoppers turn their attention to their gardens and homes.

“Stronger footfall in retail parks is synonymous with a degree of lockdown fatigue and pent up demand to get out of the house and shop, despite food store operators expanding their delivery capability.

“Shoppers are also clearly visiting retail parks for leisure-based trips in the absence of any other opportunity to shop.”

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