Face coverings fail to stimulate retail footfall


The first full week of business since wearing face coverings was made mandatory in all shops in England has failed to stimulate footfall.

Face coverings became mandatory as a measure to limit the spread of Covid-19 and to encourage nervous shoppers that it is safe to return to stores.


However, the latest data from retail analyst Springboard, found that rising footfall since non essential retailers reopened in June had slowed since the measure was introduced.

The first week of the mandatory wearing of face coverings in retail stores in England did not deliver the hoped for uplift in footfall, with a rise over the week across the UK that was virtually half of that in the week before,” says Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard.

Latest data from retail experts Springboard reveals that footfall across all retail destinations throughout the UK rose by +2.8% last week from the previous week; a more modest uplift from the week before when face coverings were only mandatory on the Friday and Saturday, during which footfall had risen by +4.4%.

In England, footfall rose by just +2.5% across all destinations, versus more than +4% in each of the other UK nations.

In high streets throughout the UK, footfall rose by +4.3% from the week before, versus just +1.2% in shopping centres and +1.4% in retail parks.

Monitoring footfall week-by-week could lead to misleading conclusions because short term variables like the weather can account for significant changes.

For example, the week started positively on Sunday, July 26, for UK high streets with a rise of +6.1%, but on Monday when rain hit, high street footfall declined from the week before by -15.7%, versus drops of just -3.3% in shopping centres and -0.3% in retail parks.

On subsequent days, however, along with the weather the tables turned in terms of footfall performance in high streets; between Tuesday and Saturday footfall across UK high streets rose by an average of +7.9% versus just +2.3% in shopping centres and +1.8% in retail parks.

Of the four UK nations it was Wales that benefited from the most significant uplift between Tuesday and Saturday, with a week on week rise over those five days of +14.8% versus +7.1% in England.

Year-on-year, footfall across the entire UK retail landscape remains 37.4% below the same week last year.


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