Monday 23 November 2020 1:23 pm

Coronavirus lockdown: Central London retail footfall plunges 80 per cent

Central London retail footfall fell 80.4 per cent last week compared to 2019 levels as the England-wide coronavirus lockdown continued to take its toll on the nation’s struggling high streets.

The latest data showed that the capital was the worst affected region due to the impact of home-working, the lack of domestic and international tourists and the closure of non-essential stores in the run-up to Christmas.

Read more: UK business activity shrinks as fresh lockdown hits services sector

However, despite a sharp year-on-year decline, central London footfall was up 14.4 per cent compared to the previous week, as the city approached the end of the latest coronavirus lockdown restrictions. 

Footfall across all UK retail destinations was down 55.4 per cent compared to last year, driven by a 59.8 per cent decline in England.

The other UK nations fared better due to less stringent restrictions. Footfall in Scotland was down 34.3 per cent, while Northern Ireland and Wales reported drops of 30.4 and 29.6 per cent respectively.

The latest research from retail experts Springboard was published this morning as retailers across the country waited to find out what restrictions they will face when the current coronavirus lockdown is eased on 2 December. 

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Boris Johnson is expected to announce a return to a tier system later this afternoon, which will reportedly allow all retailers to reopen during the final month of the crucial festive trading period.

Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, said: “Footfall across UK retail destinations strengthened slightly in what was the second complete week of lockdown in England, with the annual decline in footfall in retail destinations in England now currently around double that in each of the devolved nations.

“Virtually all of the improvement in footfall occurred at each end of the week, with double digit rises from the week before on Sunday and Saturday, and far more modest uplifts during the working week.  

Read more: UK retail sales outperform expectations ahead of second lockdown

“It seems that despite non-essential stores being closed in England, trips to bricks and mortar stores have increased across the UK as a whole, although these were more significant in shopping centres and retail parks than in high streets. 

“Surprisingly, given the coronavirus lockdown in England, week on week increases in footfall in English regions were on par or larger than in the devolved nations.”