Covid-19: what was the impact on European commercial-street footfall in 2020?
In 2020, western European countries were plagued by national and regional lockdowns, while consumer mobility was reduced owing to the rise in remote working. As a result, retail footfall in the countries’ main commercial streets suffered downturns ranging from 26.4% to 40%, according to a study by retail intelligence specialist TC Group.
The study was based on data gathered between 9 a.m. and 9.30 p.m. daily on passers-by taller than 120 cm, walking within a five-metre radius of the relevant shop windows, and showed a degree of disparity between countries.
The UK’s main commercial high streets for example saw the lowest rate of decrease within the region, with a 26.4% downturn in footfall and 3,225 people per day. According to the study, the UK managed to stem the decrease in footfall by easing lockdown restrictions roughly in parallel with periods when footfall normally tends to increase, such as June-July and October-December.
The worst result was recorded by Portugal, with a 40% slump in footfall, equivalent to 2,245 people per day. A fall that was reflected also in the number of in-store visits, down 35%.
Germany was badly affected too: footfall on commercial streets fell by 38%, and in-store visits by 46.8%, on average 217 people per day. The figures varied between the country's various administrative regions, which adopted different restrictive measures in the course of the year.
The situation was less problematic in Italy and Belgium. In the former, high-street footfall fell by 31% (3,404 people per day), while the number of in-store visits decreased by 40%. In the latter, pedestrian traffic fell by 30%, with 3,425 people per day, while in-store visits decreased by 41.3%.
France, whose commercial streets are highly dependent on tourism, managed to limit the footfall decrease to 28.2%, with 2,409 people per day. However, the number of in-store visits plummeted, falling by 49.1%, on average 334 people per day in the year.
On the other side of the Pyrenees, Spain fared a little better, with high-street footfall falling by only 27.9%, with 2,379 passers-by. Nevertheless, the number of in-store visits reportedly fell by 37.5% at peak times, around noon and in the evening.
“Average footfall in the 10 largest European cities monitored in 2020 was 2,956 people per day. Madrid recorded the highest figure, at 3,889 people per day, while Lyon in France was the city with the weakest footfall figure, only 2,007 people per day,” said TC Group, adding that “the largest footfall drops caused by the Covid-19 restrictions were recorded in Lisbon (down 52.0% compared to 2019), Berlin (down 42.5% compared to 2019) and Milan (down 38.7% compared to 2019).”
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