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Retail footfall year-on-year change in high streets in the UK 2019-2020

Due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis and social distancing measures the UK government took, retail footfall data following March 2020 saw an unprecedented fall. But even before that, UK’s high streets were having a tough time. Throughout 2019, retail footfall dropped on a monthly basis compared to the year prior, with the exception of March and the Christmas period. This trend was not peculiar to high streets either. The change in visitor numbers in other retail locations such as shopping centers continuously suffered as well. The decrease was typically worse in warmer months and improved slightly in the winter season.

Retail locations out of favor

With more and more shoppers turning to the convenience of online shopping, the landscape of high street retailing is transforming as store closures are dealing many retail and leisure store categories hard blows. Since at least 2012, there has been a consistent increase in the number of store closures, while openings stalled. As of 2018, there were more store closings than there were openings in Great Britain in the retail and leisure industry.

Banks and fashion shops first to go

On UK high streets, the most drastic change happened in the number of banks and other financial institutes. Fashion and women’s clothing stores also had a high number of casualties when combined, with over 690 net closures in 2018.

Year-on-year change in retail footfall in high streets in the United Kingdom (UK) from January 2019 to July 2020

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Release date

August 2020


United Kingdom

Survey time period

January 2019 to July 2020

Supplementary notes

* December is Christmas numbers (Monday 23rd December vs Saturday December 21).

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Statistics on "High street retail in the United Kingdom (UK)"

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