London footfall on reopening day was down almost 50% on the year
More evidence is coming through that while Monday’s big store reopening day in England may have looked busy, there remains a big gap between the usual visitor traffic at this time of year and what we actually saw on the day.
Ipsos Retail Performance (IRP) said that as more than 60% of retailers started their comeback on Monday (a higher number than expected), footfall was down 38.4%. And we can’t use the excuse that the 40% of stores still shut were the reason as the drop IRP recorded was directly comparable for the shops that were reopened.
The news was worse in London with footfall there falling as much as 46.6% on a like-for-like basis. That’s perhaps no surprise given that British shoppers are still being discouraged from travelling too far and visitors to London stores depend on public transport to get there. Additionally, the tourists on which London relies are notably absent at the moment.
IRP said that the long queues that were a feature of press reports on the reopenings were actually the result of social distancing measures rather than crowds.
How reliable are the figures? Well, IRP’s Retail Traffic Index (RTI) is derived from the number of individual shoppers entering over 4,000 non-food retail stores across the UK.
Dr Tim Denison, director of retail intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance said: “It was encouraging to see many retailers open their doors to customers on Monday for the first time since March, and while many city centres and high streets may have been busy in comparison to recent weeks, footfall was still much lower than last year. In overall volume terms it was down 62.7%, and in a like-for-like comparison for stores it was open, the figure was -38.4%.”
Dr Denison added that the headlines may have been dominated by the long queues for Primark snaking through city centres, but Primark is a retailer whose consumers haven’t been able to buy online in recent months. And again, “the reason for queuing in the first place was not the volume of shoppers per se, but the restrictions in terms of the safe shopping occupancy thresholds being deployed by the retailers”.
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