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Shops see decrease in footfall after big jump post-lockdown

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Concern: Diane Wehrle

Concern: Diane Wehrle

Concern: Diane Wehrle

Visits to shops in Northern Ireland appear to have dwindled after an initial jump of 40% following their reopening last month, according to a report today.

Information company Springboard said footfall increased by nearly 25% during the week starting June 12, when non-retail shops were allowed to open.

The week after, it grew by 37%.

But growth later slowed down to 4% - with Springboard remarking that long queues and a less spontaneous shopping experience led to the fall.

Retail parks were continuing to perform better than high streets and shopping centres.

Springboard said retail parks were more appealing destinations due to the presence of food stores and the tendency to offer wide-open spaces.

However, shopping centres and high streets rely on a mix of workers, tourists and students - many of whom are still absent as large numbers of office workers continue to work from home.

In addition, advice to only use public transport for essential travel was also limiting visits to high streets.

During the month as a whole, there was a 54% year-on-year decline in footfall on in both shopping centres and high streets.

But that did mark an improvement on the May year-on-year slump of nearly 80% in shopping centres, and 73.6% on high streets.

Diane Wehrle, Springboard marketing and insights director, said: "The pent-up anticipation to shop after more than three months of closure led to an increase in footfall in high streets of +24.7% in that week from the week before, also flowing through to the second week when footfall rose by +37%.

"However in the subsequent two weeks high street footfall slowed considerably, averaging just +4%.

"Long queues coupled with a restricted shopping experience due to social distancing could be the contributing factors to this sudden drop off in footfall.

"This is concerning for the economic recovery path of bricks and mortar retail who are heavily reliant on customer experience."

Across the UK, retail footfall for June more than halved against the same month last year as shopper demand remains low.

Springboard's figures revealed that footfall fell by 56.6% in June compared to the same month in 2019.

Springboard stressed that the reopening of non-essential stores in England on June 15 was a "turning point" for retailers. Footfall across all retail destinations for that week jumped by 40% against the previous week.

Belfast Telegraph