UK retail sector sees slow start to 2022


The UK retail sector has gotten off to a slow start in 2022, industry data showed on Friday, despite a drop in Covid cases and the easing of restrictions.

According to the last BRC-Sensormatic IQ Step Monitortotal attendance in the UK fell by 17.1% in January 2020 and increased by only 1.5 percentage points in December 2021.

Footfall in shopping streets was down 24.2%, 13.0% in retail parks and 37.5% in shopping centres, all year-on-year. In January 2021, the UK was in lockdown and non-essential retail businesses were closed.

All three sub-sectors were also down month-on-month, with retail parks posting the biggest drop of 3.8 percentage points. Footfall in shopping streets fell by 1.1 percentage points and shopping centers by 0.9 percentage points.

In the UK, England saw the biggest drop, down 19.8%, followed by Wales at 16.9%, Scotland at 16.2% and Northern Ireland with a drop of 9.5%.

Helen Dickinson, CEO of British Retail Consortiumsaid: “It’s been a slow start to 2022, with only minor footfall improvements in the UK, despite a significant drop in Covid cases. Fewer people visited retail parks and malls, but those that did went to more stores in each location.It’s likely that January sales influenced this, encouraging consumers to shop around in their quest to find the best deals.

“As we emerge from the Omicron wave and the return to the office gains momentum, we hope footfall will continue to improve.”

Andy Sumpter, EMEA Retail Consultant for Sensormatic Solutionssaid: “While total retail shopper traffic improved slightly from December’s figures, the recovery in footfall remains capped. January became the fourth consecutive month in which shopper counts had struggled to reach the highest recovery levels seen in October.

“Retailers are hoping consumer confidence will return with suburban trade to boost footfall and put a spring back in the recovery stage.”

The government scrapped work-from-home guidelines on January 20, with remaining Plan B rules, such as mandatory mask-wearing, ending on January 27.

The latest BRC-Sensormatic IQ Footfall Monitor covers the period from January 2 to January 29, 2022.

The monitor calculates total UK footfall using the precise number of shoppers entering stores, rather than an average of the three sub-sectors. As shopping parks and malls are destinations in themselves, their totals are calculated using the number of entries to the premises rather than to individual stores, which means that footfall in the location may decrease while as total attendance in the UK increases.


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