Wednesday 2 December 2020 5:57 pm

Central London footfall surges in Wild Wednesday shopping spree

Footfall levels in central London surged today as shoppers and office workers returned to the capital after England’s second coronavirus lockdown came to an end.

Central London reported a 91.1 per cent jump in visitors by 5pm, compared with the same day last week as the city entered Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions.

Read more: What counts as a substantial meal under new Tier 2 rules for pubs?

Footfall remains down 62 per cent on last year, but the lifting of lockdown has sparked a return to the streets of the capital.

Non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants reopened today in what has been dubbed Wild Wednesday.

In the West End, footfall soared 110 per cent on last week’s levels as shoppers returned to London’s main shopping district in the run up to Christmas.

However, West End footfall is still down 60 per cent on last year’s levels, according to Springboard.

New data also showed that the retail reopening failed to push spend above levels seen on Black Friday.

Transaction volumes fell 13.8 per cent by 4pm compared to the same period during the shopping bonanaza last week, according to Barclaycard, which processes nearly £1 in every £3 spent in the UK.

“The gap between Wild Wednesday and Black Friday has continued to narrow, falling from 25 per cent at the beginning of the day to just 13.8 per cent,” said Rob Cameron, chief executive of Barclaycard Payments.

Read more: From today London is in Tier 2: Do you know all the new rules?

“However, even with some stores staying open until much later this evening, it’s looking unlikely that today will overtake Black Friday. Instead, retailers will probably have to wait until Saturday – the first non-working day following stores reopening this week – to hit that milestone.”

Across all UK retail destinations, footfall increased 63.8 per cent today, and is now just 28.1 per cent down on 2019.

Shopping centres enjoyed a 96.5 per cent jump, high street footfall was up 65 per cent and retail parks – which have fared better throughout the pandemic – were up 26 per cent.

Shopper numbers at retail parks, which have a higher number of food stores and click and collect services, are down just six per cent on last year.

Meanwhile, separate footfall data from Hoxton Analytics showed that this Wednesday so far footfall is up 9.2 per cent on the whole of last Wednesday, with hours to go. 

Seb Ellson, head of enterprise solutions at Hoxton Analytics, said: “It was clear from the trends over the last four weeks and the general public mood that there was going to be a big spike in footfall today.

Read more: Business bodies warn that three-quarters of pubs, bars and casinos could go bust under new tier system

“We reported last week that public patience was wearing thin and the data over the last few days has continued to support this. 

“We will monitor what happens over the coming days and weeks, with particular focus on what the extended opening hours shows us.”