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Boxing Day retail footfall worse than at the height of Lockdown 1

Lauretta Roberts
27 December 2020

Retail footfall on Boxing Day, traditionally a key trading day for retailers, was worse than at the height of the national lockdown in the spring with shopper numbers down -87%.

Sensormatic data gathered by ShopperTrak reveals that in some of the worst hit areas, such as central London, Portsmouth and Glasgow that shopper traffic was down more than 99%. During the worst period of the first national lockdown, footfall was down overall by 85%.

A combination of Tiered restrictions, forcing non-essential retail to close in and an extended Tier 4 area, Storm Bella, and a number of key retailers opting to close on Boxing Day to give staff a much needed day off, led to the dramatic drop.

Even in Tier 2 and 3 areas where non-essential retail remained open, footfall struggled; Liverpool, currently in Tier 2, saw footfall down -67% year-on-year, while in Tier 3 Leeds shopper numbers were also down -66%. Glasgow, in the strictest Scottish tier of restrictions, saw the biggest fall in shopper counts across the UK, down -99.7% compared to 2019. Elsewhere, London footfall dropped –99.2%, Portsmouth dipped to -99.5% and Cardiff’s shoppers numbers fell to -98.4%.

Footfall on Boxing Day has been in decline for a number of years as Black Friday promotions take away the appeal of the traditional post-Christmas sale but it had increasingly become a leisure day with people heading to cinemas and restaurants to meet with friends and family, which has not been possible this year.

Andy Sumpter, Sensormatic’s Retail Consultant EMEA for ShopperTrak, commented: “With further Tier 4 restrictions coming into force at midnight on Boxing Day, plunging almost half of the population into the strictest bracket, it’s unsurprising shoppers stayed away as retailers were once again forced to close. Amid fears of rising infections and concerns about the new coronavirus strain undermining consumers’ confidence, retailers have been dealt yet another blow as Storm Bella threatens to further dampen shoppers’ spirits in what remains a torrid time for the High Street.

“While the figures make for grim reading, with shopper traffic down -87% on Boxing Day, the High Street’s fight for survival is far from over. Time and again, we’ve seen the public’s continued support for local stores return when retail has reopened – at the end of the second lockdown in November, for example, shopper traffic rose +193% nationally week-on-week in an overwhelming show of support. Retailers will be hoping, when restrictions are eased and they can reopen, that consumers will once again vote with their feet and deliver valuable trade to High Street businesses.”

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