UK shopper numbers edge higher as end of restrictions nears

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in London
FILE PHOTO: Shoppers look at bread in a Sainsbury's supermarket, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in London, Britain January 12, 2021. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

March 22, 2021

LONDON (Reuters) – The number of people heading out to shops across Britain rose by 0.5% in the week to March 20 from a week earlier, the eighth rise in nine weeks despite a national lockdown, market researcher Springboard said on Monday.

It said shopper numbers, or footfall, climbed 4% on UK high streets, but fell 4.4% in retail parks and 2.3% in shopping centres. Footfall across Britain remained 40.8% lower than during the same week last year, Springboard said.

England entered a third national lockdown on Jan. 4 to stem a surge in COVID-19 cases that threatened to overwhelm the health system.

The rules in England closed schools to most pupils, people were told to work from home where possible and all hospitality and non-essential shops were closed. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland imposed similar measures.

Some essential shops such as food outlets and home improvement retailers have been allowed to stay open.

Last month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a roadmap out of the latest pandemic-related lockdown.

Schools in England reopened for in-person lessons on March 8 and non-essential shops are scheduled to open again on April 12.

(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Alison Williams, Larry King)