More UK shoppers venture out to shop in-store as COVID-19 restrictions stopped being legally enforceable. However, numbers are not yet recovered to pre-pandemic levels, and also fell short of forecasts. Many retailers are still keeping restrictions in place, and studies suggest that confidence is low that the current freedoms will last.
Returning to shopping in-store
The number of people going to shops rose by 12.7% over the course of Julyt 19, compared to the same day last week. The sharpest rise was in the morning, when footfall by 11AM was 17% up on the previous year before falling later in the day. Over the course of the day, high streets (+14.7%) saw the biggest improvement, followed by shopping centres (+13.6%) and retail parks (+7.3%).
But visitor numbers were still almost a quarter (-24.9%) down compared to the same day in 2019. Visitor numbers had been expected to be well ahead thanks to the start of the Summer Holidays. In addition to the decision by many to stay in this country this year.
Despite the removal of COVID-19 restrictions, the recently increased infection rate is likely to make some shoppers more cautious about venturing out into what could be busy shopping environments.
UK consumers still remain cautious
Most UK adults are yet to be convinced that in-store shopping will return to pre-pandemic levels. Four in five are not confident in the government’s ability to prevent another lockdown.
74% of UK consumers lack confidence that the UK economy will fully recover from the damage caused by the pandemic. The same percentage say they are not ‘reasonably confident’ that consumer spending will return to where it was in 2019. Meanwhile, only one in five feels ‘reasonably confident’ that the government can prevent another lockdown this year.
That said, 42% are planning to increase their spending from current levels by the end of this year. Moreover, 43% will continue to spend as the are now. Although 54% are not reasonably confident of a regular income stream until the end of this year. Some 85% believe that UK adults should take their own steps to help support the UK economy on the way out of lockdown.
Consumers might feel more comfortable shopping online
Many consumers will probably feel more comfortable shopping online. Retailers need to continue to be empathetic to these very real concerns about COVID-19 and use all the tools at their disposal to give customers both choice and convenience as restrictions disappear.
A fifth (20%) of SMEs had hoped that July 19 would be the biggest trading day since Christmas. 43% of SMEs still worry about what the future would bring. Furthermore, 63% believe the impact of COVID-19 has permanently changed the way consumers spend on the high street. Two in five (40%) say they think shoppers will now mostly buy online. In addition, they believe high street spending will never recover to pre-pandemic levels. Even with all restrictions lifted, 60% believe online shopping will win. That is encouraged 73% of British SMEs to learn new digital skills. Especially around social media marketing (21%), e-commerce (16%) and taking digital payments (11%).