Wild Wednesday – Footfall surges on England’s High Streets as retail reopens after lockdown

England’s footfall jumped 150% week-on-week as stores reopened on Wednesday 02 December, the latest ShopperTrak data from Sensormatic Solutions, reveals.  Shoppers surged on to the High Street on what was dubbed ‘Wild Wednesday’ as stores reopened for the first time in four weeks after national lockdown restrictions were eased.

Footfall also recovered to -26% year-on-year on Wild Wednesday – the first time it rose up to this level since September.

Andy Sumpter, Sensormatic’s EMEA Retail Consultant for ShopperTrak, said:

“Retailers will be hoping this isn’t just pent-up demand creating a footfall ‘flash in the pan’ and that visitor numbers to shops will be sustained in the run up to Christmas.  Our latest data shows that, due to lockdown and varying levels of restrictions imposed across the country in November, we could now see more than twice as many shoppers hitting the High Street in December, creating a compressed three week Christmas shopping window.

Key to ensuring those shoppers keep returning to the High Street will be all about instilling confidence in physical shopping journeys and reassuring consumers that shops are safe.

Careful management of occupancy levels in store, and making the most of extending trade hours to flatten shopper numbers during traditional peak times, will help retailers maintain customer experience while making up for lost sales and capitalising on some Christmas cheer.”

Commenting on the reopening of retail, Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, also pointed to the importance of safety measures in-store:

“Safety remains the biggest priority for retailers, who have spent hundreds of millions to make stores Covid-secure. With billions in sales lost during lockdown, stores are looking to offer a safe and enjoyable shopping experience to bring back customers.  Christmas is around the corner so everyone has a reason to be visiting their local shops. Every purchase we make is a retailer helped, a job protected and a local community supported,” she said.

Meanwhile while the focus on Wild Wednesday was on stores, as huge queues were seen forming outside Primark and Debenhams’ stores in towns and cities, online also saw the halo effect of shops reopening.

Speaking to the BBC, Rob Cameron, chief executive of Barclaycard Payments said spending on Wild Wednesday had fallen just 13.8% short of purchases made on Black Friday last week.

“Even with some stores staying open until much later this evening, it’s looking unlikely that today will overtake Black Friday.  Instead, retailers will probably have to wait until Saturday – the first non-working day following stores reopening this week – to hit that milestone,” he added.



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