Fears for the future of England’s high streets intensified today after footfall was down by 45 per cent on Tuesday compared to the same day last year as shoppers continue to stay at home despite non-essential stores reopening.
The reopening did bring a 50 per cent rise in customers on the high street yesterday compared to the previous week, with retail experts saying the sunny 78F (26C) weather made queuing ‘a more pleasurable experience’.
But there was no huge rush to the likes of Sports Direct and Primark – unlike the scenes of huge crowds witnessed on Monday – with analysts saying the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated a shift to online shopping.
Customers turned out in force on Monday as retail parks, high streets and shopping centres reopened after a three-month shutdown due to the coronavirus crisis.
Lengthy queues of shoppers formed, many well before opening times, as people stepped out to bag a bargain or browse the rails for the first time since lockdown.
Shoppers have been encouraged to be sensible and adhere to new hygiene measures and social distancing, with a Government minister saying they are beginning to reopen the economy ‘gradually and carefully’.
While shoppers generally appeared to be keeping to the two-metre distancing rule as they queued, there were images of a tightly-packed crowd outside the Nike Town store on London’s Oxford Street.
Despite the large queues, results of YouGov polling carried out earlier this month suggested just 40 per cent of people were comfortable to go back into clothes shops, and only 48 per cent think they would be able to stay the required two metres away from other shoppers.
Some 41 per cent of people said they believe it is about the right time for the shops to reopen, but 39 per cent said it was too soon.
Zoos and safari parks were also welcoming back visitors for the first time since March, places of worship can now open for private prayer while some secondary school pupils have begun returning to their classrooms.
With official figures showing the economy shrank by a fifth in April, ministers are desperate to get businesses going again to stave off another wave of job losses. (Source: The Daily Mail)