September marks the fourth consecutive month since non-essential stores started re-opening that footfall levels have closed the gap on the same period last year, reports Ipsos.
Shopper numbers were down -39.6% YoY (in August it stood at -41.7%, and in July -53.0%). Average weekly footfall in non-food stores was -1.1% lower MoM – far stronger than the five-year average of -5.5%.
However, the expanding number of local lockdowns and stricter socialising rules hit store footfall hard as the month wore on. By the last week of September, the YoY gap had fallen back to -44.1% as increased restrictions hit store footfall.
Dr Tim Denison, director of retail intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance, says: “Footfall continued to recover last month in non-food stores, providing further evidence that an important sector in the consumer economy is gradually gaining some momentum. The national results for the month were even better in the initial weeks, but the expanding number of local lockdowns and stricter socialising rules covering a third of the UK hit store footfall hard as the month wore on. The national measures introduced in England on 22nd September to further contain the virus also appear to have added to the high street woes.
“Looking forward, if the restrictions continue to tighten and proliferate geographically, we cannot expect to see footfall continue to recover. More likely, shoppers will turn more readily again to the digital channel. At least compared to other parts of the consumer economy, such as the arts, travel and recreation, the retail sector has managed to start the long haul back to health, albeit that there is still a long way to go.
“The lustre of the Golden Quarter 2020 remains in serious doubt. Some retailers are already shipping seasonal stock to store in preparation for a long-burn campaign beginning later this month. It simply won’t be possible for stores to accommodate the usual numbers of festive shoppers in the run-in to Christmas, so early store campaign launches are inevitable to get traction in till volumes.”