UK shopper numbers fall for second straight week on new COVID curbs

FILE PHOTO: People walk past a closed shop following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Chester, Britain, August 10, 2020. REUTERS/Phil Noble

LONDON (Reuters) – Shopper numbers across all British retail destinations fell for a second consecutive week, dented by the government’s new curbs to stem the spread of COVID-19 as well as wet weather, market researcher Springboard said on Monday.

Compared with last year, shopper numbers are down 31.4%.

On Sept. 22 Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the British people to work from home where possible and ordered restaurants and bars to close early to tackle a new spike in the pandemic.

Springboard said shopper numbers, or footfall, fell 3.5% in the week to Oct. 3 versus the week before, largely driven by a 7.1% drop in high street traffic.

Footfall in retail parks rose 0.8% and it was unchanged in shopping centres.

“Part of the cause of the (overall) decline, particularly in high streets, was the rainy weather during the second half of the week that led to a double digit drop in footfall on both Friday and Saturday,” said Springboard director Diane Wehrle.

“However, the 10 pm curfew is clearly having an impact; whilst shopping centres and retail parks with only minimal evening economy activity are holding their own, high streets – where the majority of evening economy activity occurs – are feeling the effect.”

Britain’s retailers, already struggling with high rents and business taxes, tight margins and online competition, have been hammered by the coronavirus pandemic. Hundreds of store closures and thousands of job losses have already been announced.

Reporting by James Davey; editing by Kate Holton

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