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High street sees slow recovery in July, data shows

Tom Shearsmith
07 August 2020

UK retail continued its slow path to recovery in July, as footfall declined by 42.1% in July, a big improvement on the 63% slump in June, compared to 2019 footfall.

Data from the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) shows shoppers are slowly making their way back to the high street as pubs, cafes and restaurants reopen.

The reopening of pubs and restaurants did not however have a significant impact on retail footfall over the course of the month.

Retail Parks saw footfall decrease by 22.4% year on year, which is an improvement on June’s -33.8%. Wider open spaces, a higher proportion of supermarkets and larger stores quicker to reopen helped to shelter Retail Parks from a steeper decline. 

Shopping Centre footfall declined by 48.1% year on year in July, improving on June’s -68.3%. They were the most negatively affected location, partly due to enclosed spaces making social distancing more of a challenge.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “July was the first full month in which shops were allowed to open in all parts of the UK. While retailers will welcome the improvement in footfall across all shopping destinations, it remains well down on pre-coronavirus levels.

“With retail footfall recovering slower than in many other European countries, much will depend how fast consumer demand returns. Retailers have put in place a variety of measures to keep shoppers and staff safe, from regular cleaning and hand sanitiser, to one-way systems and perspex screens at tills.

"We now need Government to play their part by providing clear plans for schools, transport, and office working, all of which impact the way we shop. The safety of the public is a top priority and we believe clear communication will help build public confidence and help bolster local high streets and shopping centres during the summer months."

Andy Sumpter, Retail Consultant, EMEA of ShopperTrak, said: “July saw a number of lockdown measures rescinded, and retailers will now look and hope for a return to some form of normality. As well as more retailers re-opening in Scotland at the end of June, there was the introduction of mandated face coverings in stores, where adoption and compliance seem to have been good generally."

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