Retail destinations have started to see the impact of the government’s latest Covid messaging, after a drop in central London footfall last week.
Footfall fell three per cent in central London shopping destinations and 5.3 per cent in the capital’s office hubs last week.
Last week, the Prime Minister outlined fresh measures to tackle the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant. The announcement of restrictions had an impact even before they came into force.
Across all UK retail destinations, footfall dropped 1.1 per cent last week, driven by a drop in high street activity, according to footfall experts Springboard.
A hoped for “pre-Christmas boost” did not materialise last week, Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard said.
Poor footfall on Saturday “may well be the first signs” of the impact of plan B measures, Wehrle added.
Omicron headlines were “likely to have increased nervousness amongst consumers around visiting busy destinations during peak shopping periods,” Wehrle said.
She added: “While Plan B restrictions, such as advice to work from home if possible, don’t come into force until today, it appears to have already had an impact last week, with a decline in Springboard’s Central London Back to the Office benchmark that was nearly double the drop in footfall in Central London as a whole.”
London businesses fear the re-introduction of work-from-home guidance from this week will deter shoppers from visiting, opting to shop on local high streets or online instead.
New West End Company, which represents 600 brands, restaurants and businesses in the West End, said footfall for the week of 6 December was up three per cent week-on-week.
However, the area was still nearly a third less busy compared to pre-pandemic comparatives.
Jace Tyrrell, chief executive at New West End Company said: “Following the hammer blow of the Prime Minister’s announcement of the reinstatement of work from home guidance, retailers will have been cheered by a solid weekend that saw footfall rise three per cent week on week.
“Retailers will be hoping this can offset some of the impact from the loss of office workers in the vital last full week before Christmas.”