The British Retail Consortium (BRC) recently found that total year-on-year footfall in 2020 dropped by 43.4%. This comes due to Coronavirus-induced national lockdowns that hoped to stem the spread of the virus, which resulted in the forced closure of non-essential retail destinations. Such low levels of footfall confirm the fears of languishing consumer confidence, both as a result of the ongoing pandemic and the consequential economic fallout.
Notably, December’s footfall fell by 46.1% in comparison to the year before but was also a 19.3% improvement on November’s footfall, when England went into its second national lockdown. Now, with a third national lockdown underway, retailers across the UK are once again adhering to the government's strict guidelines in terms of maintaining social distancing in-store and providing hand sanitiser for customers, but few have made efforts to revitalise the shopping experience to attract customers amidst the pandemic.
With these statistics in mind, CEO of Ubamarket, Will Broome, comments on the state of the UK’s retail sector and discusses how retailers must transform their operations to get customers back in-store:
"The statistics have made it very clear that whilst the retail sector has experienced a gradual increase in footfall over the past few weeks, consumer confidence is still extremely low- and this is expected to continue as we move into a third lockdown. It's great to see that retailers are doing a good job of upholding government guidelines and adhering to social distancing and hygiene measures in-store, but this is simply not enough to inspire customers to risk heading back to the high-street or shopping centre.
In order to entice customers back in-store, retailers must accept that the landscape has completely changed, and hygiene is only one of the concerns. As a result, the whole shopping experience must be revitalised and transformed, to allow for increased hygiene and safety measures, but also addressing concerns around convenience, personalisation and ease of the consumer experience.
Retail technology is one option which offers a solution to a number of these challenges, enabling retailers to easily uphold safety guidelines whilst also hyper personalising and improving the convenience of the in-store experience."