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Retail Footfall Data: Nervous Return To The UK High Streets In July

  • Weekly footfall figures in July up by +12.7% on June but yearly figures down by -53.0%.
  • Compulsory facemasks did not deter OR encourage shoppers.
  • Combined data from Ipsos Retail Performance and Ipsos MORI points to ‘nervous and hesitant’ return to shops.
  • First week of facemasks dipped weekly footfall levels by -2.8% on w/c 19 July.


The latest footfall figures for non-food stores to be released by Ipsos Retail Performance show that in July – the first full month after the re-opening – the return to the shops continues to be ‘palpable but ponderous’.

Shopper numbers were down by -53.0% year-on-year, though average weekly numbers bounced up by +12.7% compared to June 2020.

Ipsos Retail Performance collects data from over 600 towns and cities across the UK, and for over 25 years its Retail Traffic Index has been the industry’s leading tracker of national, regional and sector retail footfall trends. It is also co-founder of the KPMG/Ipsos Retail Think Tank, offering thought leadership on the state of retail health and the future of retailing.

Research conducted by Ipsos MORI between 17th-20th July suggested that the influence of introducing compulsory face masks would not bring any significant immediate change; 25% of respondents said that they were more likely to go shopping, 21% said the opposite and so it has transpired: little change has been felt.

Dr. Tim Dension, Director of Retail Intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance, said:

“From the off in mid-June, shoppers made a nervous and hesitant return to the stores, understandably anxious about their safety and re-wired to prefer shopping online. Though footfall levels have risen every consecutive week since stores re-opened bar last week, they started from a very low base.

“It is still very early days, but the inauguration of face masks has not provided a light-switch moment for physical stores, nor the acceleration that the Government had hoped for. In fact, the first full week after the rule was brought in has seen the first decline in week-on-week footfall levels, down by -2.8% on w/c 19th July. It can often take time for people to adjust to new practices, so we shouldn’t rush to conclusions.

We all feel a little self-conscious when donning the vizard, but if everyone plays by the same rule it will soon become second nature and help allay concerns. However, the minority of people who choose to disregard the edict not only risk re-kindling anxiety for other shoppers, but also discouraging the majority from returning to the same stores again. Enforcing the rule is something that retailers could well do without. We shall wait to see how things play out and whether footfall levels resume to their former trend of weekly growth or accelerated growth or whether mandatory face masks have become a deterrent to physical shopping.”

For more information about the Retail Traffic Index fill out the form below or call: 01908 682 700.

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