How to increase footfall in a retail store or local shop


Increasing footfall is a key part of any retail business’s expansion plan as it’ll help you grow your business and maximise your profits.

But getting people through the door can be a challenge in today’s competitive retail market. According to the British Retail Consortium, footfall remains in decline compared to pre-pandemic levels, so we’ve put together some simple and affordable ideas to help you encourage more customers back to your local shop.

What is footfall in business…

Footfall is a measurement of how many people visit a shop or tourist attraction. It’s useful to help you understand market trends and work out the percentage of customers who leave without buying anything.

…and how do you measure it?

Retail footfall analytics is an important part of any shop’s business strategy. Most shops will have a sensor on the front entrance that can count how many people pass by (you just have to divide by two to get your visitor count).

With this data you can understand customer behaviour and use that to identify peak times, staffing needs, and general performance of your shop.

How to increase retail footfall and grow your business

If you’re struggling to attract customers after Covid-19, or just want some new ideas, read our seven top tips to help you increase footfall in your local shop.

  1. Make your local shop front stand out
  2. Partner with local businesses
  3. Move into the street
  4. Build customer loyalty
  5. Consider your offering
  6. Boost your marketing
  7. Encourage customer reviews

1. Make your local shop front stand out

Competition on the high street is fierce, so it’s vital that you make your retail shop look as attractive as possible.

The good news is, you can often see big increases in footfall by making very marginal changes. Something as simple as leaving the front door of your shop open can help you seem more approachable, and encourage customers to come in.

You should also make sure that any window displays look as smart as they can be. It’s a good idea to change displays every few weeks and make sure seasonal items like Christmas decorations are taken down as soon as the time passes.

Shop assistant setting up window display for Black Friday

2. Partner with local businesses

Retailers often assume they’re in competition with every other business in their area – in fact this may not be the case. Instead, you might well be able to benefit from partnerships with other local businesses.

Think about ways that you can reach new customers that also go to other related businesses in your area. For example, if you sell musical instruments, consider asking your local record shop if you can put some leaflets by their point of sale – and offer to do the same in return.

3. Move into the street

Don’t be limited by the four walls of your shop – there’s nothing to stop you heading out onto the street in search of customers. If your products are easy to demonstrate, think about offering samples to passers-by. This is particularly useful (and easy) for retailers offering food or drink – just think about how popular free coffee samples can be at building brand awareness.

You could also create an eye-catching A-board or pavement sign with special offers or new stock – some businesses even try adding a bit of humour.

4. Build customer loyalty

Repeat customers are the foundation of any successful business, so you should consider ways that you can encourage customer loyalty.

You can increase repeat business by offering discounts or incentives to returning customers. For example, you might choose to offer a discount on a customer’s fifth or tenth purchase. Loyalty schemes like this are particularly useful if you have direct competitors in the local area as they can help you stand out from the crowd.

5. Consider your offering

Of course, it’s no good increasing footfall if you’re not entirely confident about the products or services you’re offering. It doesn’t matter how many customers you get through the door – if they don’t find what they want, they won’t come back.

That’s why it’s a good idea to revisit your business plan and research what your competitors are doing.

You might even spot a gap in the market to help you evolve your products or services and offer something new, different, and in demand. Even if you’re short on time, just some quick research can significantly improve your sales rates.

6. Boost your marketing

It goes without saying, but it’s essential that potential customers know who you are, and where to find you. With an inspiring and targeted marketing campaign, you’ll make sure you’re attracting the right customers and increasing footfall.

If you’re a bricks-and-mortar shop, consider ways that you can target your marketing to the local community. This might be through email, adverts in local papers, or flyers.

Check out our guide to marketing and tips for selling on Instagram for more ideas.

7. Encourage customer reviews

Finally, think about how reliant we all are on using online reviews to influence our buying decisions. Just reading about someone else’s amazing experience can give that extra bit of social proof you need to buy one product over another one.

Our guide to increasing online reviews will help you create excitement, improve your search engine rankings, and ultimately increase footfall in your shop.

Do you have any tips for how to increase footfall in retail? Let us know in the comments.

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Catriona Smith

Catriona Smith is a content and marketing professional with 12 years’ experience across the financial services, higher education, and insurance sectors. She’s also a trained NCTJ Gold Standard journalist. As a Senior Copywriter at Simply Business, Catriona has in-depth knowledge of small business concerns and specialises in tax, marketing, and business operations. Catriona lives in the seaside city of Brighton where she’s also a freelance yoga teacher.

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