Evidence of 'lockdown fatigue' grows as UK shopper numbers rise again

·1-min read
Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in London

LONDON (Reuters) - The number of shoppers heading out to retail destinations across Britain increased by 6.7% last week from the previous week, adding to evidence of lockdown fatigue, market researcher Springboard said on Monday.

The rise in the week to Feb. 6 marked a third straight week of increases. However, shopper footfall was 63.9% lower than in the same week last year, shortly before the coronavirus pandemic began spreading across the country.

British 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.

Springboard said footfall was up 9% on the week in UK high streets, up 4.5% in retail parks and up 4.3% in shopping centres.

"With shopper activity increasing for the past three weeks despite all but essential stores remaining closed, the results are delivering ever more compelling evidence of escalating lockdown fatigue," said Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard.

She added that Britain's accelerated vaccination campaign could be driving additional consumer confidence.

(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Michael Holden and Mark Heinrich)