#Saveourshops - Footfall is up in August, but local shops are still struggling

According to the latetst figures shoppers are increasingly heading out to ship, with two separate studies showing that physical shoppers was up again in August – however, it is still way behind this time last year.

These figures are for non-food stores only and have been released by the Ipsos Retail Performance. It highlights that in in August, shopper numbers were down by -41.7% year-on-year, but this is still better than the -53.0% fall in July. Average weekly numbers were up by +18.8% compared to July 2020, which again is an improvement on the +12.7% rise in July vs June comparison.

Springboard also commissioned research which found that UK retail footfall continued to strengthen for the third month in a row, with a fall of -30.8% from last year, as many claim the Government’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme has helped entice customers back to UK retail destinations.

Springboard also reported that, as many of us continue to work from home and continue to shop locally, smaller high streets have continued to benefit; with footfall in smaller market towns down only -26.6% on last year in August versus -38.3% across all UK high streets. Unsurprisingly with the surge in staycations, coastal towns have also performed strongly with footfall down -24.4% from August 2019.

Diane Wehrle, Springboard Marketing and Insights Director, explains: “The importance of large cities in the ongoing evolution of bricks and mortar retailing needs to be emphasised; in 2019 regional cities across the UK attracted three times the volume of footfall compared to UK high streets, and these greater volumes of footfall are required to support new store formats and environments now demanded by shoppers. But with footfall in regional cities still 50.3% lower than in 2019 versus an annual decline of just -11.1% in retail parks it suggests that out of town locations may become even more attractive to retailers.”

Dr. Tim Denison, Director of Retail Intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance, adds: “August is usually a quieter month than July, but the reverse was true this year. Weekly footfall levels in non-food shops rose in each of its four weeks, reflecting both the growing confidence in masking up and going into shops and the greater number of people deciding to stay in the UK this summer rather than venturing abroad on holiday. Retailers also played a significant part by offering heavy promotions to encourage shoppers back into stores.”

Denison says” “We are now entering a period of transition, as we move into the key period of the retail year. With students going back to school and university, the end of ‘Eat Out to Help Out’, the economy officially moving into recession and companies beginning to pay some of the furlough costs, these changes bring with them new uncertainties.”

He concludes: “How they will influence the speed of recovery in household spend generally, and the retail sector in particular, is difficult to judge. What is certain above all else is that further recuperation is dependent on people remaining disciplined in how they go about their daily lives.”

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