Third month of standstill
Helen Dickinson OBE | Chief Executive | British Retail Consortium
“After improvements in footfall in the early part of 2021, the situation has plateaued with little change in footfall levels for a third month in a row. The turbulent weather, with initial heatwaves giving over to torrential rain, appears to have dampened the mood for shopping in July, with a particularly pronounced fall in footfall at retail parks. However, the last week of July offered a glimmer of hope for retailers as the easing of restrictions lead to the best weekly performance of 2021. Retailers hope this trend will continue as the rise of vaccinations and falling coronavirus case numbers boosts consumer confidence.
“Government and businesses must take the opportunity to build back a better future for our local destinations. With the number of empty shopfronts still rising in many parts of the country, it is vital we rebuild our local communities to integrate leisure, retail, services, and homes. For this to be successful, Government must fulfil their commitment to alleviate the unsustainable cost burden placed on retailers by the broken rates system in their upcoming business rates review. This will allow retailers to continue invest in their physical and digital offerings and provide communities with vibrant spaces to visit, work and shop.”
Andy Sumpter | Retail Consultant – EMEA | Sensormatic Solutions
“With July’s wet weather dampening shoppers’ spirits, High Street footfall stayed subdued as consumers remained cautious. Even the hotly debated ‘Freedom Day’ failed to significantly shift the dial on shopper counts, perhaps losing some of its ‘shine’ to the EURO’s which brought forward shopping and socialising trips to earlier in the month. And in a tale of two halves, Freedom Day may have split consumer confidence, with those revelling in newfound freedoms increasing the frequency of their shopping trips, while those concerned about the relaxation of restrictions on social distancing and mask-wearing becoming more inclined to stay away.
“However, while footfall performance was flat compared to June, the trajectory in the second half of July gave cause for more cautious optimism; weekend shopper counts improved by 7 percentage points week-on-week following Freedom Day*. Retailers will now be hoping caution will give way to growing consumer confidence so that they can capitalise on summer trading.”