UK shopper numbers plummet as new English lockdown bites

·1-min read
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in London
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in London

LONDON (Reuters) - Total shopper numbers, or footfall, across British retail destinations fell 15.4% in the week to Nov. 7 versus the previous week, reflecting the start of England's new national lockdown, market researcher Springboard said on Monday.

With COVID-19 infections rising at an alarming rate the British government imposed a second national lockdown for England, starting last Thursday and running until Dec. 2.

All non-essential shops must close, along with cafes and restaurants except to offer takeaway food. People have also been encouraged to work from home if possible.

Springboard said shopper numbers fell 16.2% in high streets, 18.9% in shopping centres and 9.7% in retail parks.

It said that on a year-on-year basis, footfall was down 38.6%.

However, Springboard said the result for the week as a whole disguised a mini-boom in the days leading up to the lockdown, with footfall up an average 11.7% over the four days between Sunday and Thursday.

From Thursday onwards footfall crashed, the objective of the lockdown, falling by an average of 46.7% from the week before.

"Last week was in the clearest sense a week of two halves," Springboard director Diane Wehrle said.

"With the second lockdown being announced on Saturday evening before the start of the week on Sunday, but not coming into force until Thursday, it was inevitable that there would be a last minute surge in activity."

(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Kate Holton and Angus MacSwan)