Monday 22 June 2020 11:45 am

Footfall still 54 per cent down on 2019 levels after shops reopen for business

The first week of trading since the coronavirus lockdown for many retailers saw footfall rise dramatically – but it remained 54 per cent down on the same week in 2019.

Footfall to all retail destinations across the UK increased by 45 per cent compared to the previous week, as so-called non-essential shops were allowed to reopen in England.

The easing of the coronavirus rules provided some respite for Britain’s beleaguered retailers, after footfall was down as much as 80 per cent on the same period last year at the height of the lockdown.

However, London’s West End did not enjoy the same level of increase, with footfall still 81 per cent lower than the same week in 2019.

Jace Tyrell, the chief executive of business group the New West End Company, said this showed that there was still much the government has left to do to help retailers on their path to recovery.

He said “unnecessary regulations” like the two-metre social distancing rule needed to be eased.

Tyrell also urged authorities to temporarily relax of planning and licensing regulations for bars and restaurants, and relax Sunday trading laws in “key retail destinations”. 

The measures “will boost sales and sustain footfall of local shoppers, then domestic and overseas visitors, and ensure that our businesses can survive through the summer months,” he said.

Meanwhile, Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, said that on a national level, there would be an “additional uplift” when non-essential retailers in Scotland and Wales also reopen, something which has not yet happened.

She also pointed to the reopening of restaurants and bars in the coming weeks.

The government remains under pressure to decide whether to allow these businesses to reopen on 4 July as it initially suggested they might.

Industry bodies have warned that businesses will not have enough time to get ready for such a reopening, and that this will only get worse the longer they go without any clarity.

Workers needing to be taken off furlough, perishable stock such as food and cask beer needing to be ordered, and other preparations required between such an announcement and the eventual reopening date, they have argued.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to make an announcement on reopening the hospitality industry today or tomorrow.

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