Covering the five weeks 29 August – 02 October 2021

2020 was a turbulent year in which much of retail bounced between being open and closed, impacting footfall significantly. To make meaningful comparisons to changes in footfall, all 2021 figures are compared with 2019 (pre-pandemic). This means our 2021 figures are now year-on-two-years (Yo2Y), rather than year-on-year (YoY). 

According to BRC-Sensormatic IQ data: 

  • Total UK Footfall decreased by 16.8% in September (Yo2Y), with a 1.2 percentage point increase from August. This is above the 3-month average decline of 20.5%.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief-Executive of British Retail Consortium, said: 

“While footfall at the start of September was strong, it slowed over the course of the month as increasing rainfall and ongoing fuel and supply issues convinced some consumers to stay home. The final week of September saw the worst total footfall levels since the last week July this year, shortly after the last Covid restrictions were lifted, demonstrating the fragility of consumer confidence and how the economic recovery from Covid can be so easily undermined. Retail parks continue to perform better than other shopping destinations, with access to larger stores, parking, and petrol stations. 

“As we approach Christmas, it is imperative Government takes further action to resolve the driver shortage which is increasing costs and creating delays throughout the supply chain. Retailers are trying to recruit and train thousands of new British drivers, but 5,000 visas are not enough to fill the gap in the short term. The Government should extend the visa scheme to help prevent customers facing significant disruption this Christmas.” 

Andy Sumpter, Retail Consultant EMEA for Sensormatic Solutions, commented: 

“We saw a slight slowdown in September’s footfall recovery, which was particularly marked in the second half of the month as fears of fuel shortages prompted consumers to limit shopping journeys to essential trips.  However, while we saw a levelling off in shopper traffic counts last month, September still represented the highest recovery point compared to pre-pandemic levels yet this year, pointing to a steady, albeit marginal, upward trajectory even in spite of supply chain disruption and petrol shortages at the pumps.  And, the UK’s footfall recovery is far from tanking when we look across to our European counterparts – while shopper traffic in the UK is down 17% on pre-pandemic levels, the likes of France and Germany are still seeing footfall down by over a third. 

“Looking ahead, retailers will be counting on the Golden Quarter to capitalise on Christmas trade as the High Street’s recovery continues – and with our research showing 79% of consumer will start festive shopping between now and the start of December, October and November will be critical months to encourage shoppers back into store.”