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Face masks have ‘not provided a light-switch moment for physical stores’ as hoped

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New research on retail footfall suggests a significant slowing in the growth initially seen after lockdown eased.

The data from Ipsos revealed that July shopper numbers were down a significant 53% year-on-year. Compared to the previous month footfall made a 12.7% increase, though.

Furthermore, the first week of compulsory face masks in shops saw a 2.8% decrease in footfall.

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Dr Tim Dension, director of retail intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance, said: “From the off in mid-June, shoppers made a nervous and hesitant return to the stores, understandably anxious about their safety and re-wired to prefer shopping online. Though footfall levels have risen every consecutive week since stores re-opened bar last week, they started from a very low base.

“It is still very early days, but the inauguration of face masks has not provided a light-switch moment for physical stores, nor the acceleration that the government had hoped for. In fact, the first full week after the rule was brought in has seen the first decline in week-on-week footfall levels, down by 2.8% on the week commencing 19 July. It can often take time for people to adjust to new practices, so we shouldn’t rush to conclusions.

“We all feel a little self-conscious when donning the vizard, but if everyone plays by the same rule it will soon become second nature and help allay concerns. However, the minority of people who choose to disregard the edict not only risk re-kindling anxiety for other shoppers, but also discouraging the majority from returning to the same stores again.

“Enforcing the rule is something that retailers could well do without. We shall wait to see how things play out and whether footfall levels resume to their former trend of weekly growth or accelerated growth or whether mandatory face masks have become a deterrent to physical shopping.”

Tags : Face masksIpsos Retail PerformanceRetail
Sam Lewis

The author Sam Lewis

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