Shoppers to English high streets up 51% as non-essential retailers reopened

Coronavirus - (Copyright PA Wire)
16:42pm, Mon 22 Jun 2020
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The reopening of non-essential retailers, including clothes shops and department stores in England led to a 51% surge in customers heading to the high street, new data shows.

Between Monday June 15 and Sunday June 21 the number of shoppers was up compared with the week before but remain at historic lows, according to Springboard.

Across all UK retail destinations, footfall was up 45% despite Wales and Scotland keeping non-essential stores closed.

Footfall numbers were up just 8.5% and 11.5% in those countries respectively.

Coronavirus – Mon Jun 15, 2020 - (Copyright PA Wire)

Splitting out the data, it showed high streets and shopping centres in England saw the biggest uptick in shoppers, both up 51% during the week compared with a week earlier but retail parks saw a slower rise, up 32.7%.

But compared with a year ago, footfall in England is still down 47.7%.

In Wales it is down 68.8% and Scotland down 66.5%.

The data also found each day of the week saw an increased number of shoppers as more customers felt safe heading to stores, apart from Thursday when there was heavy rain.

Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, said: “The opening of non-essential retail in England on Monday June 15 had a substantial impact on footfall across all retail destinations.

“The overall result for the UK was subdued by Scotland and Wales where retail reopening is yet to happen.

“We anticipate an additional uplift to come when retail in these areas of the UK also reopens and the hospitality and entertainment industry is given the green light to resume trading in the coming weeks.”

Figures for the same period from British Retail Consortium (BRC) revealed a 57.2% decrease in footfall for the week across the UK, compared with the same period last year.

It said shopping centres saw a particularly sharp decline, as footfall dropped by 63.5% year on year.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of BRC, said: “While many shops will welcome the increase in footfall as a result of shops opening, it is clear that the retail industry is not out of the woods.

“The initial burst of enthusiasm which saw footfall improve in the first few days after reopening quickly gave way to the lower demand which continues to threaten retailers up and down the country.”

Gavin Prior, operations director at Trafford Centre owner Intu, said: “Footfall increased towards the weekend and Saturday and Sunday were our busiest days so far.

“Visitor numbers were up by 321% on last weekend across all Intu centres, with more than half of the stores in our centres now open.”

The improvements on England’s high streets were not matched by London’s West End, however, with footfall remaining down 80.8%.

New West End Company chief executive, Jace Tyrrell, which represents businesses in the area, called for a relaxation of the 2m social distancing rules.

He warned: “In the West End, we are hindered by a lack of international visitors and restrictions to the use of public transport, and businesses are being further held back by unnecessary regulations.”

The Government is conducting a review of the distance, with a decision expected this week.

Pubs and restaurants will also hear about reopening plans slated for July 4.

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