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Shoppers continue steady return to shops, two years on from the first Covid-19 lockdown

Image: Anna Menthe/Shutterstock

Two years on from the first Covid-19 lockdown, the number of people visiting UK high streets and shopping centres continues to recover, the latest footfall figures suggest.

The first Covid-19 lockdown was announced on March 23 2020. Last week – two years on – the numbers visiting UK shops rose by 7.8% compared to the previous week – with a positive trend visible across locations, including high streets (+9.8%), retail parks (+5.8%) and shopping centres (+5.5%), according to Springboard figures.

Footfall was 15.7% lower than the same week in pre-pandemic 2019, but more than twice the rate (+116.4%) seen in the UK’s third lockdown, one year previously. Retail parks (-5.9%) continue to be closer to 2019 visitor levels than high streets (-16.9%) and shopping centres (-22.2%).

Diane Wehrle, insights director at business insights organisation Springboard, says: “Last Wednesday marked two years since the beginning of the first lockdown and delivered positive news for UK retail destinations last week, which was helped by warm and sunny weather across the UK which lasted the entire week.

“Not only did footfall rise significantly from the week before across UK retail destinations as a whole, but there were strong rises in each of the three destination types. As is typically the case when we benefit from good weather, high streets benefited most with a week on week increase that was nearly double that in shopping centres and retail parks. There were rises every day in high streets and retail parks, and on five of the seven days in shopping centres.”

Government advice to work from home – this time put in place for the final time as the Omicron variant emerged – ended finally in January 2022. The Springboard Central London Back to the Office benchmark shows footfall in central London was 11% up on the previous week.

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