The UK’s new tiered coronavirus restrictions contributed to a drop in footfall at retail sites across the country last week, in a worrying sign for the shaky economy.
Visits to high street shops and malls fell 3.1 per cent in the week ending 17 October, according to data company Springboard.
It was the fourth consecutive drop, but was steeper than in previous weeks.
Big cities were hit particularly hard, with shopper numbers declining 5.7 per cent.
London’s drop of 2.3 per cent was lower than most. But Springboard said this reflected the fact that footfall had fallen further in the capital previously.
The figures suggested the government’s new tiered coronavirus restrictions weighed on activity in the north of England in particular. In the “north and Yorkshire” region, footfall dropped five per cent, the biggest fall in the UK.
Tiered restrictions have ‘immediate impact’
It comes after the government put in place a new three-tiered system of coronavirus restrictions. Liverpool and Lancashire have been put in the highest tier. That means mixing with other households is banned and pubs and bars that do not serve “substantial meals” have to close.
Tier 2 now covers London and parts of Cumbria, Derbyshire and Yorkshire. Mixing with other households indoors is banned.
“The additional Covid tiered restrictions had an immediate impact on footfall in retail destinations last week,” said Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard.
She added: “The 10pm closure of hospitality is having a clear impact on high street activity during the evening, with far greater declines in footfall post-6pm.”
The fall in footfall was widespread across Springboard’s three categories of “retail destinations”: high streets, retail parks, and shopping centres.
However, the high street remains the worst affected. Footfall was down 40 per cent year on year last week. Retail parks have held up better, with footfall down 13.2 per cent.