Nervous return to the high streets in July

Nervous return to the high streets in July

The latest footfall figures for non-food stores has shown that shoppers’ return to the high street continues to be “palpable but ponderous”.

According to data released by Ipsos Retail Performance, July – the first full month after lockdown on non-essential retail was lifted in mid-June – shopper numbers were down by  a whopping 53 per cent year-on-year.

However, the average weekly numbers throughout the month bounced up by 12.7 per cent compared to June.

Ipsos Retail Performance collects data from over 600 towns and cities across the UK for determine its monthly Retail Traffic Index.

Research conducted by Ipsos Mori between July 17-20 suggested that the influence of introducing compulsory face coverings would not bring any significant immediate change.

Twenty-five per cent of respondents said that they were more likely to go shopping, while 21 per cent said the opposite.

“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,” Ipsos Retail Performance intelligence director Dr Tim Denison said.

“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 per cent on week commencing July 19.

“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.”

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