England’s high streets saw a 50 per cent rise in shoppers yesterday compared to the previous week as Britons made the most of non-essential stores reopening.
Retail experts said the sunny 78F (26C) weather made queuing ‘a more pleasurable experience’ – although footfall was still 45 per cent down on the same time last year.
Data from analysts Springboard up until 5pm yesterday showed footfall in retail parks that comprise high street retailers in England was up 33.4 per cent.
In shopping centres it rose by 34.1 per cent, meaning the overall rise in footfall at all retail destinations in England was up 38.8 per cent in comparison with a week ago.
But footfall across all of England’s retail destinations was down 35.9 per cent year-on-year, while on high streets it was down 45.3 per cent, Springboard said.
Data from analysts Springboard has shown have footfall increased significantly yesterday
Diana Wherle, Springboard’s insight director, told MailOnline: ‘Up to 5pm yesterday, footfall across all England’s retail destinations is around a third lower than a year ago, while it remains two-thirds lower in Scotland and just over half lower in Wales.
‘Footfall has risen by 50.5 per cent in England’s high streets, 34.1 per cent in shopping centres and 33.4 per cent in retail parks that comprise high street retailers.
‘Footfall has risen by more than we anticipated, but it was certainly helped by the weather which made queuing a more pleasurable experience.’
The top UK temperature yesterday was 77.7F (25.4C) at Kew Gardens in West London, with further hot weather expected for the rest of this week and next.
Shoppers queue outside Zara on Oxford Street in London this morning for a fashion purchase
Shoppers wait for clothing store Zara on Oxford Street in London to open this morning
Customers turned out in force yesterday 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.
|SHOPPING TYPE||ENGLAND||NORTHERN IRELAND||SCOTLAND||WALES|
|UK High Streets||50.50%||34.90%||-5.40%||20.00%|
|UK Retail Parks – all||18.60%||7.80%||-1.80%||4.00%|
|UK Retail Parks – high street retailers||33.40%||n/a||3.20%||4.20%|
|UK Shopping Centres||34.10%||15.10%||-0.40%||13.70%|
|UK Retail Destinations||38.80%||29.90%||-3.30%||14.60%|
One customer described it as being ‘a little bit crowded’, but told the PA news agency that staff ‘did all they could to put the measures in place and keep it under control’.
Long lines were seen at Primark stores across the country, with dozens of keen shoppers waiting outside branches in Birmingham, Derby, Liverpool and Nottingham.
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.
Nike employees speak to people queueing outside the Niketown shop in London yesterday
Oliver Rowe, director of reputation research at YouGov – which carried out four surveys between June 2 and 11, involving between 1,700 and 4,000 people – said the results show ‘there is a lot of work to be done yet to convince shoppers that it’s business as usual’.
Shoppers described returning to stores as ‘a delight’ and a ‘wonderful freedom’.
People heading into the Apple store on Regent Street in central London had their temperatures checked and were told they must wear face coverings when inside.
Small business minister Paul Scully insisted it is safe to shop, noting the new looks many stores will have as they attempt to ensure social distancing and good hygiene among staff and customers.
|SHOPPING TYPE||ENGLAND||NORTHERN IRELAND||SCOTLAND||WALES|
|UK High Streets||-45.30%||-38.10%||-73.20%||-62.70%|
|UK Retail Parks – all||-9.40%||-1.80%||-37.20%||-45.80%|
|UK Retail Parks – high street retailers||-12.90%||n/a||-76.50%||-43.80%|
|UK Shopping Centres||-42.00%||-29.40%||-72.00%||-67.00%|
|UK Retail Destinations||-35.90%||-35.90%||-64.30%||-59.80%|
|Data provided by Sprinboard|
He told BBC Breakfast: ‘The high street is going to be a different place to what it was before, with the one-way systems, with the hand sanitisers, and with people not trying clothes on in the same way.
‘But, nonetheless, it is safe to shop. I would encourage people to be sensible, work with the people in the shop but do go out and shop, and start opening our economy gradually and carefully.’
Commuters were pictured wearing masks at stations and on trains and buses across the country as face coverings on public transport became mandatory.
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.
Hundreds of shoppers queue ahead of the store opening at Primark in Birmingham yesterday
Boris Johnson acknowledged some people may be nervous about returning to the high street after so long away but insisted they ‘should shop and shop with confidence’.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak – who is reported to be considering a VAT cut to stimulate spending – acknowledged further redundancies were inevitable as the Government’s furlough scheme begins to unwind.
Ministers are under intense pressure from Conservative MPs to go further by easing the two-metre social distancing rule so the hard-pressed hospitality sector can also reopen.
Mr Johnson confirmed at the weekend that he had ordered a ‘comprehensive’ Downing Street review of the regulation and his official spokesman confirmed it will be completed in the ‘coming weeks’.
The Prime Minister has said the falling numbers of Covid-19 cases meant there was a greater ‘margin for manoeuvre’ as the chances of coming into contact with someone with the disease diminished.