UK shops see more visits in July but numbers still low – survey

FILE PHOTO: People are seen on a retail street, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Windsor, Britain August 5, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) – More British shoppers returned to the high street in July, helped by the reopening of pubs and restaurants, but numbers were still much lower than normal for the time of year, an industry survey showed on Friday.

The monthly report from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) trade body and market research firm ShopperTrak showed footfall was down 42% in annual terms in July, compared with a 63% decline in June.

The reopening of pubs and restaurants in England on July 4 helped to spur only a small number of additional visits to the high street, the BRC said.

The outlook for stores remains precarious and major retailers have announced a slew of job cuts since non-essential stores reopened to the public in England on June 15.

Official data showed retail sales excluding fuel were back to year-ago levels in June, but the recovery has been driven by a boom in online shopping and extra spending at supermarkets as people ate out less.

“It remains too soon to say how well retail will recover in the coming months, but it clearly remains a difficult trading period for many physical retailers,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.

“With retail footfall recovering slower than in many other European countries, much will depend how fast consumer demand returns.”

Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by David Milliken

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