UK FOOTFALL DECLINES STEEPLY WITH SECOND LOCKDOWN
Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief-Executive of British Retail Consortium, said:
“Footfall plummeted once again as England underwent its second national lockdown in November. With the majority of stores closed, many missed out on the usual Black Friday boost to store visits as customers hunted for bargains online instead. Retail parks were hit less hard thanks to a higher proportion of supermarkets and other essential stores in those locations, slightly mitigating the overall drop in footfall. Now that all of retail is open again, customers can get out and do their Christmas shopping confident that stores are covid-secure and retailers are doing everything to keep them safe.
“After two lockdowns in England, and a shortened Christmas trading period, many retailers are feeling the pressure in the final weeks of the year. ‘Non-essential’ retailers face mounting rent bills on top of a return to full business rates liability from April 2021. The Government must address this by extending the moratorium on debt enforcement, giving retailers and landlords more time to negotiate, and extending rates relief for the worst affected businesses into next year. Without this, parts of the industry face the stark reality of being unable to pay their bills, resulting in further job losses and store closures, and setting back any wider economic recovery.”
Andy Sumpter, Retail Consultant – EMEA of ShopperTrak, said:
“Not even Black Friday could loosen the grim grip of lockdown, which wiped out footfall on the High Street in November. Forced to close just at the time they needed to capitalise on Christmas trade, the real test now comes as those retailers can reopen.
“Re-instilling consumer confidence in the safety of stores is key to ensuring shoppers return, as well as using extended opening hours, with some retailers trading 24/7 in December, to reduce the pressure on the store network and improve customer-experience.
“Retailers have already invested heavily in keeping shoppers safe so they can continue to support the communities they serve. Now they are reliant on the public investing in them by voting with their feet and choosing to ‘use or lose’ the retail businesses on their High Street.”