East Anglian towns hit harder by coronavirus curfew

Shoppers have been adjusting to socially distanced in Ipswich town centre but the government's 10pm

Shoppers have been adjusting to socially distanced in Ipswich town centre but the government's 10pm curfew has hit high street recoveries Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

East Anglian town centres are taking a harder battering from curfew than other regions as shoppers continue to stay away, figures suggest.

Shoppers returning to Ipswich high street in August, before the latest curfew and restriction tighte

Shoppers returning to Ipswich high street in August, before the latest curfew and restriction tightening announcements Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Footfall across East Anglian retail destinations fell by -4.4% week-on-week over the week from Sunday, September 20, to Saturday, September 26, according to retail tracker Springboard. Year-on-year, shopper numbers across the region plummeted by -23.2% over the same period.

The average drop across all UK retails destinations as the government’s 10pm curfew took its toll was -3% – indicating the move has hit the East of England harder.

Footfall declined by -6.8% across UK high streets while footfall rose slightly by 1.1% in UK retail parks and +0.9% in shopping centres.

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In high streets, Wednesday footfall declined by -10.5% between 10pm and 12am, while Friday saw a decline over the same two hours of -36.4%, with a drop of -55.4% after 11pm.

Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle said there was “an immediate and downward shift” in footfall in high streets from Wednesday onwards “which was inevitable given the prevalence of hospitality and the fact that the majority of offices are based in towns and city centres”.

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“Unsurprisingly, the compulsory closure of hospitality outlets at 10pm from Thursday onward led a huge drop in footfall in high streets after 11pm.

“Despite the impact on footfall of the increased government restrictions from Thursday there was little impact on the annual result, as footfall actually rose marginally over the three days from Sunday to Tuesday, possibly due to consumers making trips in advance of further restrictions, which helped to offset the drops later in the week.”

The government’s announcement on Tuesday evening to ‘work from home where possible’ prompted an average footall decline of -11%, said Springboard.

However, retail parks on Wednesday and Thursday saw footfall fall by an average of just -1.1% compared with -4% in shopping centres and -13.6% in high streets.

With the majority of retail parks having a large food store, the figures suggests an element of panic buying over the two days, said the retail tracker.

The closure of hospitality outlets at 10pm from Thursday had an “immediate impact” on activity in high streets, it added.