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Footfall across region’s shopping centres and high streets still dramatically down on last year

PUBLISHED: 08:45 28 July 2020 | UPDATED: 12:25 28 July 2020

Shoppers out in force wearing masks in Norwich city centre on the first day it became mandatory for shoppers to wear face coverings in shops. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Shoppers out in force wearing masks in Norwich city centre on the first day it became mandatory for shoppers to wear face coverings in shops. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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Shoppers in the East of England have continued to make a cautious return to high streets, retail parks and shopping centres, new figures show.

Shoppers are returning to Ipswich's town centre  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNShoppers are returning to Ipswich's town centre Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

But numbers remain dramatically down on the same time last year as consumers adjust to the new post-lockdown realities.

Footfall across all UK retail destinations rose in the week beginning on July 19 by 4.4% compared with the week before, mirroring the previous week’s improvement of 4.5%, according to retail tracker Springboard.

MORE – Reeling East of England firms look to shed staff amid pandemic fallout

But across the countries of the UK, there were marked differences. While in England, week-on-week footfall rose by 4% versus 6.4% in Scotland, Northern Ireland (9.4%) and Wales (8.7%) – where face coverings were not made mandatory in store – the improvement was greater.

Meanwhile, the East of England saw a +3.7% rise in footfall in the week, compared to +4.4% across the UK as a whole.

Mask wearing parts of the country didn't see footfall improve at the same rate as  places where it isn't mandatory - although rain may have been to blame  Picture: DENISE BRADLEYMask wearing parts of the country didn't see footfall improve at the same rate as places where it isn't mandatory - although rain may have been to blame Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The East’s high streets saw a +5% improvement compared to +5.2% across the UK, while shopping centres fared less well at +2.4% (UK +4.8%). Retail parks in the region saw a +2.1% rise (UK +2.4%).

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But year-on-year the East of England took less of a hit than other parts of the UK. Its shopping destinations have seen a -35.6% decrease in footfall compared to an average of -38.4% across the UK. The region’s high streets suffered a -39.3% year-on-year footfall drop – but footfall in the UK as a whole plummeted -45.7% over the same period. The fall in retail parks footfall was similar to national average at -19.7% (-19.9% UK).

But the East’s shopping centres have suffered a much more dramatic fall year-on-year of -43.6% compared to -40.9% across the UK.

On Friday and Saturday (July 24 and 25) – the first two days where face coverings in England became mandatory in retail stores – footfall in retail destinations declined by an average of -1.7%.

England was the only nation where footfall declined on these two days, rising by an average of +2.7% in Wales and +1.8% in Northern Ireland.

However, in Scotland – the only other nation where face coverings are required – footfall rose by an average of +5.3% on Friday and Saturday, which suggests others factors were likely to have come into play, such as heavy rain on Saturday, said Springboard.

Springboard insights directors Diane Wehrle said: “The first few days of the latest government guidelines has not yet delivered conclusive evidence of its impact on activity in bricks and mortar destinations, however it is positive news for retailers that the annual performance is continuing to improve.”


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