December restrictions cut footfall by almost 50%

December restrictions cut footfall by almost 50%
Northern Ireland's December footfall dropped by almost 50%
Covering the five weeks 29 November 2020 – 2 January 2021

According to BRC-ShopperTrak data:

Year on year Northern Ireland footfall decreased by 47.2% in December, a 22.2 percentage point decrease from November. This remains just below the UK average decline of 46.1%.

Year on year footfall in Belfast decreased by 47.3% in December, a 22.4 percentage point increase from November.

After Scotland, Northern Ireland saw the second shallowest Shopping Centre footfall decline at -45.5%.

The third and fourth weeks of December saw the strongest performance however footfall fell to the worst levels since May in the final week.

Shopper footfall

Aodhán Connolly, Northern Ireland Retail Consortium Director, said “Shopper footfall in Northern Ireland fell like a stone last month, plummeting by almost a half compared to the same period the year before. Caught in a pincer movement between lockdowns at the start of the month, this was a terrible way to end the year for the retail industry in Northern Ireland. It rounded off an incredibly tough festive trading period and a truly dismal 2020 for much of our retail industry, particularly those in more discretionary categories many of whom had been forcibly shuttered for many months this year.

Unnerving start

“This is an unnerving start to the year for many retailers. Even when stores are eventually permitted to re-emerge from this enforced hibernation, it is likely many will continue to suffer from lower shopper footfall. Whilst a return to trading is crucial, it will not be a panacea for the sector. That’s why we hope to see a recovery plan from government to get retail moving once again, including early visibility over continued business rates relief for the coming financial year, and a new time frame for the high street voucher scheme. We also need to make sure those stores forced to close at the moment receive timely and adequate compensation from the Executive. Otherwise our high streets will look considerably different by the end of the year”.

Mutated virus

Andy Sumpter, Retail Consultant – EMEA of ShopperTrak, said “Not even the advent of festive season could turn around the fortunes of the High Street in December.  As infection rates soared, fears of a mutated virus spread and Christmas gatherings were called into question or cancelled, it was really was a case of ‘the strain that stole Christmas’ for retailers, as footfall plummeted to nearly -50% year-on-year.

“December had started promisingly, with shopper counts recovering at the start of the month, boosted by shoppers’ get-ahead gift buying.  But footfall soon fell away as UK consumers faced the prospect of tougher restrictions – from tighter tiers, to impending lockdowns and smaller shorted Christmases.  While this recovery was short-lived, it did at least serve to save some valuable Christmas trade.”













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Northern Ireland Retail Consortium

Aodhán Connolly
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Katarzyna Breczko

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About the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium

The NIRC’s purpose is to make a positive difference to the retail industry and the customers it serves, today and in the future.

Retail is an exciting, dynamic and diverse industry which is going through a period of profound change. The NIRC is committed to ensuring the industry thrives through this period of transformation. We tell the story of retail, work with our members to drive positive change and use our expertise and influence to create an economic and policy environment that enables retail businesses to thrive and consumers to benefit. Our membership comprises over 5,000 businesses delivering £180bn of retail sales and employing over one and half million employees.