Return to the office boosts high street footfall
By Laura Enfield | 3rd March 2023
The return of the office commute helped to bring people back to high streets and town centres last month, reports The Times.
But shopper numbers remain stubbornly below pre-pandemic levels, new figures show.
The number of people going to shops was up 10.4% last month, compared with February last year but is 8.8% down on 2019 levels according to the latest BRC-Sensormatic IQ Footfall Monitor UK.
High street footfall increased by 17.8% in February, which was 2.4 percentage points worse than last month's rate and lower than the three-month average rise of 18.4%.
Retail parks saw footfall decrease 3.3% on an annual basis - although this is 0.2 percentage points better than last month's rate and the same as the three-month average decline of 3.3%.
Shopping centre footfall increased by 11.7% in February, which was 0.7 percentage points worse than last month's rate but marginally better than the three-month average rise of 11.3%.
Helen Dickinson, BRC CEO, said: "Growth in footfall slowed this month after the rush of Christmas shopping and January sales. Some people are making fewer visits as the cost of living continues to bear down ahead of the April energy price rise.
"Despite this, high streets continue to show the biggest improvement compared to last year, when concerns around Covid kept people away from town and city centres.
"Footfall at retail parks suffered as customers switched back to shopping centres and high streets, which are being buoyed by returns of the office commute.
"Consumer demand remains fragile, owing to the ongoing cost of living crisis and weak consumer confidence. Many retailers are investing in their store experience, and all continue to support customers with the cost of living.
"But it is vital that government does not burden the retail industry with additional regulatory costs that hinder investment."
Andy Sumpter, retail consultant EMEA for Sensormatic Solutions, said: "Facing multidirectional headwinds - from the long shadow cast by Covid to the ongoing consumer caution caused by the rising cost of living - we are, at least, starting to see footfall normalising.
"While the fluctuations in footfall are now less volatile, creating a new baseline against which to benchmark high street performance, it doesn't mean the footfall recovery has yet fully turned a corner.
"Retailers are still grappling with underlying uncertainty as they try to keep pace in the context of these multifaceted challenges.
"Looking ahead, delivering value - whether that's through ranging or by giving shoppers compelling reasons to visit stores - will remain central to turning the tide on footfall performance."
Copyright 2023 Moose Partnership Ltd. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any content is strictly forbidden without prior permission.