Following the Prime Minister’s announcement of a stepped plan to lift lockdown restrictions, a retail expert Ipsos Retail Performance fully expects a swift rebound in footfall when non-essential stores re-open.
Evidence from retail analytics consultancy Ipsos shows that shoppers were slow to return to non-essential stores after the first lockdown was lifted in June 2020. In stores that re-opened in that first week, footfall was only a third (32.3%) of levels the previous year.
However, the return to the shops was far stronger on re-opening after the second lockdown in November, when footfall during the first week after the lockdown was lifted stood at almost two thirds (64.7%) of the corresponding week of 2019.
Dr Tim Denison, director of analytics and insights at Ipsos Retail Performance, says that he expects to see a similar rebound in shopper numbers to that seen in December this time around. He explains: “It is hugely encouraging for the retail sector to see a plan for stores to re-open after lockdown and consumers will be eagerly anticipating a return to physical retailing, after their withdrawal over the winter.
"From last year’s lockdowns we learned that shoppers’ anxieties around safety and hygiene in-store that we saw after the summer re-opening had diminished considerably come the second national re-opening in December, by which time retailers, staff and customers were well-versed with the required social distancing and queuing procedures.
“I expect to see shoppers pick up where they left off last time around, with non-essential store footfall bouncing back to two thirds of the levels before the pandemic struck. This time around, of course, we have the added advantage that the vaccine rollout is well under way, and this may give some of the elderly who had been reluctant, after previous lockdowns, added reassurance to venture out. From a behavioural science perspective, we believe that all the elements are in place for this to happen.
“While we may have to wait until the second half of the year before things really start to brighten up in the economy, we can expect significant pent-up demand for retail therapy to be released when non-essential stores re-open after a dark winter.”