UK shoppers drop 55% as English lockdown bites

FILE PHOTO: People walk by Westfield shopping centre in Shepherd's Bush, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, May 26, 2020. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - The number of shoppers across British retail destinations fell 55.4% in the week to Nov. 21 from a year earlier, mainly reflecting the impact of a second full week of England’s COVID-19 lockdown, market researcher Springboard said on Monday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered England into a month-long lockdown in early November after coronavirus infection cases and deaths started to rise again, angering businesses and some of his own political party over the economic consequences.

The lockdown closed all non-essential shops, along with pubs, cafes and restaurants except to offer takeaway food. People have also been encouraged to work from home if possible.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are also under varying levels of restrictions, set by their devolved administrations.

Springboard said shopper numbers, or footfall, in England was down 59.8% year-on-year, with the other three nations improving to down 34.3% in Scotland, down 30.4% in Northern Ireland and down 29.6% in Wales.

It said regional city centres continued to be hardest hit with footfall down 64.4%. Central London was down 80.4%.

On a week-on-week basis there was an improvement of 5.9% across all UK retail destinations, Springboard said.

Non-essential shops in all areas of England are expected to be allowed to reopen when the current lockdown ends on Dec. 2, the BBC reported on Monday.

Johnson is due to lay out the details of what restrictions will be in place post-lockdown when he speaks later on Monday in parliament.

Reporting by James Davey; editing by Michael Holden and Susan Fenton