Footfall Remains Down in April Despite Non-Essential Retail Reopening

Although the re-opening of non-essential shops has provided a much needed boost to the retail sector, figures have shown that a return to pre-pandemic footfall is unlikely "any time soon".

According to BRC-Sensormatic IQ figures, footfall was down by 40% when compared to the same period in 2019, and 43.9% down on two years ago.

The worst hit country was Nothern Ireland, which saw a dramatic dip in footfall of 55.4% when contrasted with 2019, most likely due to the delay in re-opening non-essential retail until the end of April.

Northern Ireland was closely followed by Scotland with a decline of 52.1%.  Meanwhile, England and Wales fared better due to their earlier opening of non-essential retail, with footfall down 38.4% and 38.2% respectively when compared to 2019. 
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson, said:  'Growing consumer demand and footfall in the months ahead will be vital for the survival of many retailers, as they start to see costs increasing as stores reopen and colleagues return from furlough.
'With full business rates relief ending in England in June, the ongoing rates review needs to deliver on its objectives to reform the broken rates system and reduce the financial pressures on retailers, otherwise many stores and viable jobs will be under threat.'


Retail Vacancies Increase Across All Shopping Destinations

New research has shown that as many as one in seven retail shops are now standing empty as retail vacancies rise across all regions and shopping destinations.
The first quarter of 2021 saw the overall retail vacancy rate rise to 14.1%, an increase of 1.9% when compared to the same period in 2020.
The research - supplied by the BRC-LDC Vacancy Monitor - also revealed an increase in the vacancy rate of 13.7% in comparison to the final quarter of 2020, highlighting three consecutive years of steadily increasing shop vacancies on UK high streets and in shopping centres.
According to the data collected, there are approximately 5000 fewer shops than there were at the beginning of the pandemic.
LDC director Lucy Stainton said of the findings: 'The number of vacant units has continued to increase in the first three months of this year across the country, despite much of the market being temporarily closed during the third lockdown,'
With this in mind, and despite these percentages increasing significantly, we would argue that we have not yet seen the true impact of this third lockdown and this will only be obvious once the market has had the chance to reopen fully.
'This being said, the early indications from the first few weeks of the ‘unlocking’ have shown there is still significant demand for physical retail and eating out.
'Hopefully, as consumer confidence continues to build momentum with reduced Covid-19 cases, more of the population vaccinated and warmer weather, further fallout from the pandemic might be mitigated somewhat.'



'Sharp Snap Back' Anticipated for Retail as Lockdown Restrictions Ease

Retailers have been advised to prepare for a 'sharp snap back' in consumer spending after a new report revealed that 'going to a shop' was top of the list of activities people were keen to get back to after lockdown measures eased.

Deloitte chief economist Ian Stewart said of the findings: 'The UK is primed for a sharp snap back in consumer activity,'

'High levels of saving, the successful vaccination rollout and the easing of the lockdown set the stage for a surge in spending over the coming months.'

 The research - conducted by Deloitte's Consumer Tracker - also showed a record increase in consumer confidence, with the tracker showing it as the highest recorded since its launch 10 years ago.


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