Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Shopping boost for England falls short of 2019 figures

Published:  07 December, 2020

Lockdown fatigue has led to a boost in retail numbers as shoppers flocked back to the high street, though footfall has failed to deliver pre-pandemic levels.

The first figures after the return to the tier system on 2 December show a marked return to the high street this week with shoppers keen to make the most of festive shopping opportunities.

On average however, shopper numbers hovered a quarter below 2019 levels, with footfall across the UK down by 30% compared to the same weekend in December last year.

In London on Sunday, shopper numbers were half what they would normally be this close to Christmas.

The figures, from retail analysts Springboard via the BBC, show a country that is still very much recovering from two lockdowns and restrictions on businesses of all types.

There are however, signs of encouragement from the week’s shopping data.

Anecdotal evidence from businesses suggests that while footfall is down, there has been an increase in the average transaction size as shoppers look to splash out for Christmas.

This is backed up by retail sales, which are above pre-pandemic levels, according to the ONS.

Shoppers also seem more comfortable returning to public shopping areas after the second national lockdown than they did after the first.

Footfall across England was 60% higher this weekend than on 20-21 June – the first weekend shops were allowed to reopen after the country’s first lockdown.

“Part of this is timing. The proximity to Christmas means there is huge pent up demand amongst consumers to shop in store to purchase gifts,” Diane Wehrle, marketing director at Springboard, said.

“However, it is also an indicator of 'lockdown fatigue', whereby after many months of being restricted to their homes, consumers are keen to visit retail stores again, particularly to experience the excitement of Christmas.

“They have become accustomed to the 'new normal' that involves wearing face masks in stores and queuing in order to adhere to social distancing rules which we were not all comfortable with in June.”