UK shoppers make tentative return to high street in June, retailers say

FILE PHOTO: A woman carrying shopping bags walks by Regent street after the reopening of retail stores, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London, Britain June 16, 2020. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

LONDON (Reuters) - British shoppers returned to the high street in June as the coronavirus lockdown eased, but overall numbers were much lower than normal for the time of year, an industry survey showed on Friday.

The monthly report from the British Retail Consortium trade body and market research firm ShopperTrak showed footfall was down 63% in annual terms in June, although this was 19 percentage points above May’s reading.

Non-essential stores were allowed to reopen on June 15 in England, but shopper numbers were still 53% lower than normal in the second half the month, compared with a 77% shortfall in the first two weeks when only essential stores were open.

“(The) UK recovery has been sluggish, especially compared with European standards, but retailers with stores remain hopeful that the reopening of hospitality will provide a welcome boost,” said BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson.

Pubs and restaurants reopened last weekend, and on Wednesday finance minister Rishi Sunak said the government would fund discounts on eating out on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August.

Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by David Milliken