Coronavirus: UK retail footfall plummets further with more job losses on horizon

Lily Canter
·2-min read
High streets have been deserted as shoppers drive to out-of-town retail parks. Photo: Getty
High streets have been deserted as shoppers drive to out-of-town retail parks. Photo: Getty

Recovery on the UK high street continued to falter in October for the third consecutive month according to industry data.

Footfall decreased by 33.5%, sliding down a further 3.4% percentage points from September.

Shoppers are avoiding city centres and heading to out-of-town retail parks instead which saw a smaller decrease of 9.3% year-on-year, compared to 39.3% on high streets.

Shopping centres also faced a bleak month with footfall down 37.7% year-on-year, according to the latest figures from British Retail Consortium ShopperTrak.

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“While footfall remains well below pre-pandemic levels, the slow recovery since April has come to an end in October with footfall falling across all retail locations. Today’s lockdown is likely to see footfall plummet to the depths seen during the previous closures, putting hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk," said Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of British Retail Consortium.

"Despite investment in online and click-and-collect services it is unlikely closed retailers will be able to make up for lost ground. Any extension to the lockdown beyond 3 December would be catastrophic for ‘non-essential’ retail businesses," she added.

Wales received the sharpest fall in shopping centre footfall with a decline of almost 65% as a result of new restrictions introduced in October.

Northern Ireland fared far better with the shallowest decline of all regions for the fourth consecutive month.

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But as people have rushed to non-essential shops ahead of their closure in England the three days running up to lockdown today saw the footfall decline retreat to -18%.

"This short-lived upshoot in footfall will do little to console retailers, who have been forced to shut just as they prepare for Christmas, their most crucial trading period. In the first lockdown, we saw shopper traffic bottom out at -85%, and we expect November to follow the same trajectory, meaning retailers now face the prospect of a bleak, rather than a Black Friday,” said Andy Sumpter, retail consultant EMEA of ShopperTrak.

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