Coronavirus: Stay-at-home workers having ‘devastating effect’ on city centre footfall | Business News

Coronavirus: Stay-at-home workers having ‘devastating effect’ on city centre footfall | Business News

City centre shops are still suffering from a slump in footfall as many workers continue to stay at home.

The latest BRC ShopperTrak footfall monitor shows that footfall across the UK was down by 34.3% in August compared to the same month last year.

This was a 7.3% point improvement compared to July.

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People were told to stay home during the worst of the coronavirus pandemic and, although most shops have now reopened, many remain cautious.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), said: “In-store discounting and demand for school wear helped lure some customers back to the shops, but with many office blocks still empty and much of the public avoiding public transport, footfall is not returning to towns and city centres and this is having a devastating effect on the local economies in these areas.

“While many businesses have been investing in making workplaces safer, we are unlikely to see significant growth in footfall while government advice remains to ‘work from home if you can’.

“Unless this changes, more should be done to encourage people to travel and reassure them that public transport is safe.”

Footfall at shopping centres was down 37.4% year on year – 10% better than in July, and footfall on high streets was 41.7% lower.

The strongest footfall figures were seen at retail parks – an 11.1% decline compared to August last year, with research saying these were more attractive to shoppers as they are wider spaces, making social distancing easier. They also have more supermarkets.

Andy Sumpter, retail consultant for Europe at ShopperTrak, said: “Footfall in the UK continued to improve throughout August, with a marked upturn in the final week.

“This can in part be attributed to the last days of the Eat Out To Help Out campaign, and back-to-school shopping.

“Retail parks continued to lead the way for recovery, with shopping centres catching up, while high streets are still lagging.

“With many people still working from home, high streets in many major cities desperately await the return of tourist and office commuter footfall.”

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