Covering the five weeks 1 March – 4 April 2020

  • UK Footfall decreased by 44.7% in March, due to the mandatory lockdown. This was, of course, a record decline for the industry that has seen unprecedented challenges during the month.
  • In the three weeks prior to the lockdown (23rd March), UK Footfall saw an average decline of 17.7%. Whereas during the two weeks of lockdown, UK Footfall saw an average decline of 83.2%.
  • Footfall on High Streets declined by 41.8% year on year. They fared better in comparison to Shopping Centres, as local convenience stores saw a rise in popularity.
  • Retail Parks saw footfall decrease by 23.5% year on year. Thanks to wider open spaces in comparison to other locations and a higher proportion of supermarkets helped to shelter Retail Parks from a steeper decline.
  • Shopping Centre footfall declined by 43.6% year on year. They were the most negatively affected location, partly due to enclosed spaces making social distancing more of a challenge.

UK Total Footfall is calculated by using precise shopper numbers entering stores in the UK, whichever destination they are located. Likewise, High Street footfall uses exact numbers of shoppers entering stores on UK high streets. As Retail Parks and Shopping Centres are shopping destinations themselves, their totals have been calculated using precise numbers of shoppers entering the premises rather than individual stores within them. Therefore, the UK Total Footfall figure is not calculated by averaging the three individual shopping destinations.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief-Executive of British Retail Consortium, said:
“Footfall dropped in early March, as many people chose to stay at home and reduce the risk of catching coronavirus. This downwards trajectory was accelerated by the Government’s decision to put the UK on lockdown, with footfall dropping by over 80% on the previous year in the weeks following these measures. High streets and shopping centres saw the biggest declines as most shops closed their door, but retail parks also saw reduced falls due to the presence of many essential retailers remaining open for business.  

“Retail is facing an unprecedented challenge, particularly those geared towards high street sales. Government schemes, including loans, furlough payments, and business rates respite, have been welcomed by the industry as an essential lifeline. However, many jobs and businesses depend on this backing and Government must remain flexible in their support over the coming weeks, with footfall expected to fall even further.”

Andy Sumpter, Retail Consultant of ShopperTrak, said:
"The three weeks in March leading up to lockdown saw progressive declines in traffic from -4.4% to -38.3% year on year. Following the government’s announcement, we then saw year-on-year decreases of over 80% in the final two weeks. The way in which we shop has dramatically changed, with consumers shopping by themselves - causing an artificial drop in footfall numbers – and retailers limiting shopper numbers in store.  
In these unprecedented times, I applaud those retailers and store teams who are continuing to serve us. Never before have retailers needed to act so fast, making huge changes in order to keep the public safe. Existing technologies and solutions – such as real-time occupancy – are also being explored by many retailers, to help automate processes and improve social distancing measures.  
All eyes are on our team in China who are monitoring the safe return of retail as they come out of lockdown, as they report that in Shanghai after 4 weeks of opening up again, stores are 80% trading with visitor numbers back to 70% of normal."