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Shoppers across region stay home as pandemic resurgence blights recovery

PUBLISHED: 08:21 14 October 2020 | UPDATED: 08:21 14 October 2020

Latest figures show that high street shoppers in the East are still down by more than a quarter on last year.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Latest figures show that high street shoppers in the East are still down by more than a quarter on last year. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Retail footfall across the East of England has continued to take a battering from the coronavirus pandemic – but is faring better than some other parts of the country.

Members of the public walking past Primark in their face coverings. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNMembers of the public walking past Primark in their face coverings. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Shopper numbers in the region’s towns were down by more than a quarter (25.6%) overall across high streets, shopping centres and retail parks compared to the same week last year during the week beginning October 4, 2020, according to retail experts Springboard.

But there was an anaemic week-on-week improvement in footfall of 0.5%.

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That compares favourably to the national average, which was 31% down from the same time last year – with footfall week-on-week down by -0.3%. The previous week saw a -3.5% decline following the first complete week of the 10pm closure of hospitality outlets.

In the East of England, shopper numbers in high streets were still -28.2% below where they were last year, but 1.4% up from the previous week.

Latest figures show that high street shoppers in the East are still down by more than a quarter on last year.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNLatest figures show that high street shoppers in the East are still down by more than a quarter on last year. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Retail parks in the region were nearly -12.7% down year-on-year, and took a surprising -2% dip compared to the previous week. Shopping centre footfall was -32.6% down, but up 1.1% on the previous week.

Nationally, footfall rose marginally by +0.1% in high streets and +0.4% in shopping centres and unusually it was retail parks where footfall declined by -1.6% which dragged the overall figures down.

Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle said a north-south divide appeared to be opening up in terms of the night-time footfall bounceback, with southern areas of the UK recording rises in footfall post 11pm compared to noticeable declines in the Midlands and North where a number of towns have more severe restrictions in place.

Latest figures show that high street shoppers in the East are still down by more than a quarter on last year.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNLatest figures show that high street shoppers in the East are still down by more than a quarter on last year. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Prime minister Boris Johnson’s decision to introduce stricter restrictions across parts of the UK was likely to drive footfall down further, she added.

Across the country, heavy rain in the first half of the week meant that between Sunday and Tuesday footfall across all UK retail destinations fell from the week before by an average of -5.7% (-9.3% in high streets). From Wednesday to Saturday footfall rose by an average of +2.9% (+6% in high streets).


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