Reopening week: HMV, New Look, Space NK and entrepreneur Theo Paphitis encouraged by customer demand

Joanna Bourke
·3-min read
HMV is among retailers to have reopened stores from the latest lockdown (HMV)
HMV is among retailers to have reopened stores from the latest lockdown (HMV)

A number of retailers have recorded a jump in in footfall compared with when shops reopened from the first lockdown, and said they have been encouraged by trading so far this week.

Firms and entrepreneurs gave updates on their performance and observations since ‘non essential’ retailers were allowed to reopen stores on April 12.

Theo Paphitis, the chairman of Boux Avenue, Ryman and Robert Dyas said: “It's encouraging to see that consumers are out in far greater numbers than expected.”

However, he cautioned: “We won't have a true reading on consumer confidence on the high street for another 10-12 weeks, when everything will settle to a 'new normal'. One thing we have seen is that intent to buy is there, and people are not just browsing.”

Beauty firm Space NK’s trading director Sara Cohen said there has been “fantastic results” from stores, and added: “Like for like sales are up 47% compared to reopening following the first lockdown last year.”

The company is anticipating a “very” busy Saturday, helped by restaurants and bars serving outdoors, “making shopping much more of a social occasion, allowing our customers to reconnect with their friends and family and enjoy the high street once again”.

Nigel Oddy, chief executive of fashion chain New Look, said trading has “easily surpassed our initial expectations”.

Oddy said: “We’ve been pleased by the positive reaction to our new spring product range and we’re optimistic that the strong trading performance will continue into the weekend as we open our doors to customers for the first weekend since the start of the year.”

HMV said footfall on April 12 and April 13 was up by 150% in comparison to the first two days after non-essential retailers were allowed to reopen in 2020.

Doug Putman, owner of HMV, said: “This was by far our strongest post-lockdown return, and it signals not only that the British public feels confident in the Covid-secure measures that retailers including hmv have put in place, but also that people are excited to get out and see what the high street has to offer.”

Entrepreneur Paphitis, a former Dragons’ Den star, said Saturday will likely be a busy day, but due to factors such as people working from home or school holidays, the “footfall is likely to be spread more across the week, than spiking this Saturday”.

Data from research group Springboard shows shopper numbers in central London between Monday and 5pm yesterday more than doubled, up 124.6% from the same period a week earlier when most shops and restaurants were closed, except for click and collect or takeaways.

While the figure is still significantly lower than pre-pandemic, down 61.9% from the same period in 2019, it is more than five times higher than a year earlier when the first lockdown was in place.

Retailers in the West End and City are still missing out on much footfall from office workers and tourists as travel restrictions remain in place.

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