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Published on August 6th, 2021 | by The GC Team

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‘Freedom Day’ fails to boost shopper numbers

Boris Johnson’s so-called Freedom Day failed to lift retail footfall in July, possibly not least because the day of deliverance was marred by a raging ‘pingdemic’ and spiralling covid infections.

Total footfall decreased by 28.0% on pre-pandemic July 2019, against a 3-month average decline of 27.7%, with a particularly pronounced fall at retail parks.

Andy Sumpter, Retail Consultant EMEA for Sensormatic Solutions, which compiles the footfall figures with the British Retail Consortium, suggested that Freedom Day perhaps lost some of its shine to the EUROs, which brought forward shopping and socialising trips to earlier in the month.  

But, “in a tale of two halves”, he said: “Freedom Day may have split consumer confidence, with those revelling in newfound freedoms increasing the frequency of their shopping trips, while those concerned about the relaxation of restrictions on social distancing and mask-wearing becoming more inclined to stay away.” 

While footfall performance was also flat compared to June, the trajectory in the second half of July gave cause for more cautious optimism.  According to Sumpter, weekend shopper counts improved by 7 percentage points week-on-week following Freedom Day. 

“Retailers will now be hoping caution will give way to growing consumer confidence so that they can capitalise on summer trading,” he added.

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