East's high streets were nearly empty - even before national lockdown

Members of the public are reflected in the window of the empty shop in Ipswich

A new £4.6billion fund has been announced to help businesses through the third coronavirus lockdown. - Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Post-Christmas shoppers drained out of East of England high streets as the government's coronavirus messaging hit home and Tier Four restrictions took their toll, latest figures show.

Data from retail analysts Springboard show a marked 62% year-on-year fall in shopper numbers across the region in the week beginning Sunday, December 27, with the usual Boxing Day sales bonanza replaced by empty streets.

The figure was greater than the 56% year-on-year UK decline and compared to the previous week the region also suffered a far steeper decline than the UK average - with the East of England seeing a week-on-week decline of 39% compared to the UK figure of a 23% fall.

In the East, shopping centres took the biggest week-on-week hit with a 45% drop compared to the 32% UK average. They were also down 76% compared to last year (60% UK-wide).

The region's high streets were next with a 42% fall compared to 22% UK-wide week-on-week, and 66% year-on-year (UK average -65%) drop.


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East Anglia's retail parks also saw week-on-week drops of 26% compared to 17% across the UK. Year-on-year that worked out as a 40% drop compared to 32% across the UK.

Nationally, footfall in Tier 4 locations was 72% lower than last year, compared to 34% lower in Tier Three locations, Springboard said.

The analyst said it was "unsurprising" the greatest loss of footfall compared to last year continued to be in London and large city centres with the 'stay home, stay local' message seeing smaller towns more resilient.

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Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle said the end of the festive trading period and tightening restrictions unsurprisingly resulted in a significant drop in footfall at the end of 2020.

"We know from our experience of retail reopening in June 2020 that until the widespread roll-out of the vaccine retail footfall will remain significantly below the pre-Covid level," she said.

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