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Published on August 6th, 2020 | by The GC Team

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Consumers make a tentative return to non-essential stores

Shoppers have been described as making a “nervous return” to the UK’s high streets in July as month-on-month footfall gained 12.7% in non-food stores with Scotland & Northern Ireland showing the best turnout.

According to figures from Ipsos Retail Performance, which measures footfall in non-food outlets throughout the regions, footfall fell 53% on July last year but hope of a small recovery of 3% month-on-month is expected for August.

Ipsos reported that footfall dipped by 2.8% during the first week of wearing facemasks becoming mandatory, but concluded that the move neither deterred OR encouraged shoppers.

“The improvement was gradual week-on-week, but the jury is out on the impact of mandatory masks,” the organisation said.  

Following the Government’s decision to permit all non-essential stores in England to open their doors from 15th June, Ipsos said the return to shops was generally tempered with caution.

The average weekly footfall was down by 65.7% overall once stores had begun to reopen, with each of the three weeks seeing a slight narrowing of the year-on-year deficit.

Dr Tim Denison, director of Retail Intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance, said quite what ‘good’ looks like for a year-on-year comparator for store footfall is difficult to ascertain at the moment.

“It is still early days to know how much shopping behaviour has changed, what changes are for the short or long term and how long the safety guidelines will remain in force and impact on footfall.

“The one thing that is blatantly apparent is that retailers will need to manage their businesses on lower store footfall. The survival imperatives are therefore to deliver higher conversion rates and average transaction values in stores, ramp up click-and-collect capabilities and bolster online sales performance.”

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