According to BRC-Sensormatic IQ data:

  • Total UK footfall increased by 5.3% in April(YoY), 1.5 percentage points worse than March and worse than the 3-month average increase of 7.0%.
    • High Street footfall increased by 10.5% in April(YoY), 1.9 percentage points better than last month's rate but worse than the 3-month average rise of 13.4%.
    • Retail Parks saw footfall decrease by 6.9% in April(YoY), 1.0 percentage points worse than last month's rate and worse than the 3-month average decline of 5.6%.
    •  Shopping Centre footfall increased by 7.9% in April(YoY), 0.3 percentage points worse than last month's rate and worse than the 3-month average rise of 9.1%.
  •  England saw the highest increase in footfall of all nations at 9.7%, followed by Scotland at 7.7% and Wales at 3.0%. Northern Ireland saw the lowest increase at 2.9%.
  • Compared to pre-pandemic levels (Yo4Y), Total UK Footfall decreased by 16.2%; High Streets by 21.2%, Retail Parks lower by 6.1%, and Shopping Centres by 18.2%.

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said:
“Footfall saw year on year improvement mainly in High Streets and Shopping Centres, which had been the most affected during the pandemic, and still have the furthest to catch up. Retail footfall is finding a new balance, as the rise in online shopping and spread of hybrid working, has changed consumer shopping habits. As a result, while we expect footfall to continue to improve, it may never reach the levels seen prior to the pandemic.

“There is good cause for optimism in the coming month, as the Coronation is expected to bring a surge in footfall over the bank holiday, as shoppers head out to the shops ahead of this historic event. Government should capitalise on the uptick in global tourism, finding ways to boost the UK’s position as a top destination for international shoppers. The UK now stands alone as the only major European economy without a VAT-free shopping scheme, dissuading many potential shoppers from visiting.”

Andy Sumpter, Retail Consultant EMEA for Sensormatic Solutions, commented:
“Footfall saw growth again in April, even if more modest than in the first quarter. This is despite a continuing cost of living crisis and inflation in most categories, not least food. With April marking a year on from the end of the last remaining covid restrictions across the UK, as well as the first energy price cap increase, remarkably, retailers are starting to see some stability.

"This can partially be attributed to consumers adjusting to the times by shopping down or shopping more carefully. As we became used to “living with covid”, consumers have now lived with higher prices for over a year, meaning shopping habits are beginning to stabilise. Stability brings predictability and predictability brings retailers the confidence to plan. There is also positive news from some retailers, with HMV making a much-anticipated return to Oxford Street after a four-year hiatus, and M&S announcing it is investing £12.5 million into developing its London store portfolio this year.

"The outlook does remain tough however, and double-digit growth was always going to fizzle out as the year went on and footfall trends began to normalise. Nevertheless, rising consumer confidence and a May full of holidays is surely something that retailers can look forward to.”