Slow start to 2022

Covering the four weeks 02 January – 29 January 2022

Since the pandemic started, much of retail has bounced between being open and closed, impacting footfall significantly. To make meaningful comparisons to changes in footfall, all 2021 figures are compared to their pre-pandemic levels. This means our Jan/Feb 2022 figures are year-on-two-years (Yo2Y), rather than year-on-year (YoY).

According to BRC-Sensormatic IQ data:

  • Total UK footfall decreased by 17.1% in January (Yo2Y), with a 1.5 percentage point improvement on December. This is just above the 3-month average decline of 17.3%.
  • Footfall on High Streets declined by 24.2% in January (Yo2Y), 1.1 percentage points worse than last month's rate and below the 3-month average decline of 22.2%.
  • Retail Parks saw footfall decrease by 13.0% (Yo2Y), 3.8 percentage points worse than last month's rate and below the 3-month average decline of 8.8%.
  • Shopping Centre footfall declined by 37.5% (Yo2Y), 0.9 percentage points worse than last month's rate and below the 3-month average decline of 36.5%.
  • Northern Ireland again saw the shallowest footfall decline of all regions at -9.5%, followed by Scotland at -16.2% and Wales at -16.9%. England saw the deepest decline at -19.8%.

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

“It was a slow start to 2022, with only minor improvements to UK footfall despite a significant decline in Covid cases. Indeed, it was quality over quantity in January; less people visited retail parks and shopping centres, but those who did went to more stores at each location. It is likely the January sales influenced this behaviour, encouraging consumers to shop around in their quest to find the best deals. Footfall failed to improve consistently across the UK, with London yet to benefit from the end of Plan B measures announced in mid-January.

“As we emerge out of the Omicron wave and the return to the office gains momentum, we are hopeful footfall will continue to improve. Yet, even as restrictions are eased, retail footfall will not return to pre-pandemic levels any time soon. This poses a challenge to many town and city centre retailers who continue be impacted to from lower commuter numbers. However, opportunities remain; innovative retailers are reacting to new consumer behaviours by investing in physical and digital offerings in order to draw in new customers. The return of other sectors, from hospitality to tourism, may create additional competition for customer spending, but it also brings new life and custom to many vital shopping destinations.”

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

“While total retail shopper traffic improved marginally on December’s figures, footfall’s recovery remains plateaued.  January became the fourth successive month in which shopper counts struggled to reach the highest recovery levels seen back in October.  With the Government dropping covid Plan B curbs and work from home guidance, retailers will be hoping consumer confidence will also return along with the commuter trade to boost footfall and put a spring back in to the step of the High Street’s recovery.”

Methodology:

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. If fewer people were to visit these destinations, but they visited more shops when they did so, it is possible for footfall in the locations to fall, but Total UK footfall to rise.