Data intelligence specialist Springboard has observed a 28.2% decline in UK retail footfall in the five weeks between 30 August and 3 October 2020, based on analysis of CCTV footage.Footfall declined year-on-year by 34.6% in high streets, 31.5% in shopping centres and 10.8% in retail parks as government-mandated restrictions on movement took effect.
A tough year for UK retailers
Year-on-year (YOY) footfall has been on a downward trend from 25% in the first week of September to 28.7% by the third week, coinciding with the return of schools. By the final week of the month, YOY footfall was down by 31.4% as tighter restrictions on movement came into force.
Springboard identifies the imposition of compulsory 10PM closures in England as the single greatest factor in this decline of the high street. As punters stayed clear of pubs and clubs, footfall slumped from negative 34.3% to minus 39.4% in the second half of the year.
The outlook is somewhat less dire as far as retail parks are concerned, with footfall standing just 7.3% lower than 2019, significantly outperforming both high streets and shopping centres.
Why it matters
Explaining the importance of the findings Springboard claimed: “This is the first conclusive evidence of the importance to local economies of the working population, and suggests that there could be a fundamental long term change in bricks and mortar retailing if working from home becomes an embedded long term trend.“
The survey evidence reinforces a downbeat assessment by Wunderman Thompson Commerce ahead of Amazon's Prime Day on 13 October, which predicts a decline in Black Friday sales.
Wunderman expects sales for the period to slump by 22% this year, with total spend anticipated to top out at £5.5bn, following a survey of 1,621 omnichannel shoppers and 1,001 online consumers by Censuswide through September.
Online is likely to be the main beneficiary with 67% of shoppers purchasing from the comfort of their own homes, potentially pushing online spend up by as much as £3.7bn.
On Black Friday alone Amazon is likely to account for as much as 65% of all retail spend, up from 62% last year.
Amazon has made the tentpole shopping event its own in recent years, establishing a near-monopoly on the sales event which sets the tone for the all-important Christmas period.
A further 25% of respondents state that they will up their spending with the e-commerce giant having relied on its services through lockdown.