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UK shopper numbers plunge as English lockdown makes impact

·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: A taxi passes as people wait at a bus stop in Regent Street, London, Britain
FILE PHOTO: A taxi passes as people wait at a bus stop in Regent Street, London, Britain

LONDON (Reuters) - Total shopper numbers across British retail destinations plummeted 57.7% in the week to Nov. 14 year-on-year, reflecting the impact of England's second national lockdown, market researcher Springboard said on Monday.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland enacted new COVID-19 health restrictions last month and England began a one-month lockdown on Nov. 5 to curb a second wave of the pandemic that has left the United Kingdom with Europe's highest death toll.

In England, all non-essential shops had to close, along with pubs, cafes and restaurants except to offer takeaway food. People have also been encouraged to work from home if possible.

Springboard said shopper numbers, or footfall, was 64.7% lower year-on-year in UK high streets and 65.7% lower in shopping centres but down 34.3% in retail parks.

It noted that footfall was more resilient than it was in the first complete week of England's first lockdown in March when it plunged by 75.1% across all UK retail destinations.

"The fact that footfall is more resilient may well be a function of the proximity of Christmas, and the concern of shoppers to buy well in advance this year to avoid queues, facilitated by the wide range of non-food products offered in stores selling essential goods," said Springboard director Diane Wehrle.

The researcher said that following the end of a two week lockdown in Wales, footfall in its retail destinations rose by 135.9% last week from the week before, providing an indication of what may occur in England when the latest lockdown ends on Dec. 2.

(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Kate Holton and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)