Britain’s hot weather keeps shopper numbers low

FILE PHOTO: Shoppers walk past social distancing signs at the Covent Garden shopping and dining district, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London, Britain, August 2, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) – Shopper numbers across all British retail destinations rose 0.8% in the week to Aug. 15 versus the week before, with extremely hot weather partly responsible for the muted increase, researcher Springboard said on Monday.

In the previous week shopper numbers, or footfall, grew 3.8% – with traffic boosted by the start of a state-funded eating out scheme designed to get Britons spending again.

The country’s retailers, already struggling with high rents, business taxes, tight margins and online competition, have been hammered by the coronavirus lockdown. Thousands of job losses have already been announced.

Springboard said footfall last week was down 0.5% on UK high streets. However, it was up 1.9% in retail parks and up 2.4% in shopping centres – the former being open air and easy to access and the latter benefiting from being climate controlled.

“The first week of the peak summer holiday period delivered spectacularly hot weather but largely lacklustre footfall performance,” said Springboard director Diane Wehrle.

“Customer activity across UK retail destinations rose marginally from the week before but the uplift was less than a third of the increase recorded in the previous week.”

On a year-on-year basis total footfall at all UK destinations was down 32.5% last week, the researcher added.

Surveys published last week showed consumer spending remains far below normal levels.

Reporting by James Davey, Editing by Paul Sandle

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