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Warm weather boosts Britain's shopper numbers

·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: Shoppers wearing face masks at a market in Cambridge

LONDON (Reuters) - The number of people heading out to shops across Britain rose by 8.5% in the week to April 3 versus the previous week, fuelled by warm weather at the beginning of the week, market researcher Springboard said on Tuesday.

It said shopper numbers, or footfall, was up 9% on high streets, increased 9.7% at retail parks and was up 6.3% in shopping centres.

“With exceptional weather across most of the UK it was not a surprise that last week footfall rose across all retail destinations from the week before," said Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hammered Britain's retail sector, leaving gaping holes on the country's main shopping streets and costing tens of thousands of jobs.

But despite national lockdowns, UK shopper numbers have increased in nine of the past ten weeks.

England's latest lockdown started in January but home improvement retailers and food outlets, classified as essential, have remained open.

On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that non-essential shops can open again on April 12.

Springboard noted that following the anniversary of the start of England's first lockdown the previous week, footfall last week was 1.5 times as great as in the same week in 2020 but still two thirds lower than in 2019.

(Reporting by James Davey. Editing by Jane Merriman)