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Footfall on UK high streets much lower than a year ago

Saleha Riaz
·2-min read
Glasgow / Scotland - February 15, 2019: a blur of shoppers and commuters during the evening rush hour on Buchanan street in the city centre
The number of people visiting salons, cafes and cinemas on Saturday was about half the level of last year across the country. In central London, it was 75% lower. Photo: Getty

The number of people visiting UK high streets on Saturday 4 July, when the hospitality sector opened up after months of being in lockdown, was high compared to a week ago but significantly lower when compared to last year.

The Guardian, citing figures by Springboard, a company that provides data on customer activity in stores, said the number of people visiting salons, cafes and cinemas on Saturday was about half the level of last year across the country. In central London, it was 75% lower.

There could be a number of reasons for this. People may not be comfortable going back due to coronavirus fears, plus some venues chose not to open even though the government has allowed them to.

Those that were open had to limit the number of patrons to comply with social distancing rules.

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On the first day that restaurants, cinemas, pubs and salons were allowed to open, footfall increased by just under 10% week on week by late afternoon. After 5pm, it picked up, rising 35.8% compared to a week prior.

It was up by 26% in central London and the West End, and by 29.4% in regional city centres, The Guardian reported.

Meanwhile police forces reported few arrests after pubs reopened amid a warning from a senior officer that it was “crystal clear” drinkers could not sick to social distancing.

John Apter, the chairman of the Police Federation, said so-called Super Saturday was a “predictably busy night” that confirmed alcohol and social distancing was “not a good combination”.

The Metropolitan Police have praised the majority who “complied with social distancing guidelines and remained vigilant,” but said a small number of venues closed early due to crowding concerns.