Fed-up Britons returning to shops despite lockdown and 'Beast from the East'

·1-min read

LONDON (Reuters) - The number of people heading out to shops across Britain increased by 1.5% last week from the previous week, a fourth straight week of rises, indicating that Britons are increasingly tiring of lockdown, industry data showed on Monday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered England into a new national lockdown on Jan. 4 to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases that threatened to overwhelm parts of the health system.

Under the rules in England, schools are closed to most pupils, people should work from home if possible, and all hospitality and non-essential shops are closed. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have imposed similar measures.

Essential shops allowed to stay open include food outlets and home improvement retailers.

Market researcher Springboard said that while footfall in high streets declined by 1.7% in the week to Feb. 13 versus the previous week, there were rises of 3.9% in shopping centres and 6.1% in retail parks.

“Despite Beast from the East 2 hitting virtually all of the UK at some point last week, footfall across retail destinations continued to rise from the week before," said Springboard director Diane Wehrle, referring to bitterly cold and snowy weather.

"Last week was the fourth consecutive week in which footfall has increased from the week before, delivering ever more evidence that shoppers are experiencing lockdown fatigue and are increasingly willing to travel to retail destinations, whatever the weather," she said.

Despite the week-on-week rise, Springboard said footfall was still 61.4% lower than in the same week last year.

(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Kate Holton and Nick Macfie)