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UK shopper numbers edge higher ahead of indoor hospitality reopening

By Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) – Shopper numbers across Britain rose 0.5% in the week to May 15 versus the previous week, ahead of Monday’s reopening of indoor hospitality which is expected to bring a further boost to footfall, researcher Springboard said on Monday.

The increase was the first in four weeks.

Springboard said shopper numbers on UK high streets rose 3.9% but were down 3.4% in retail parks and down 2.8% in shopping centres.

“The result was a largely a result of a bounce back from a drop in shopper activity that occurred over the bank holiday weekend the week before,” said Diane Wehrle, Springboard’s insights director.

Non-essential stores reopened in England and Wales on April 12 after more than three months of COVID-19 lockdown. They reopened in Scotland on April 26 and Northern Ireland on April 30.

Hospitality has now also opened up further.

From Monday most Britons will be free once again to drink a pint in a pub, sit down to an indoor meal in a cafe or restaurant and visit the cinema after a series of lockdowns that imposed the strictest restrictions in peacetime history.

“With indoor hospitality opening today the return of shoppers to high streets couldn’t come at a better time, suggesting we will see a further uplift in footfall as the opportunity to eat and drink inside protected from the elements will give shoppers an incentive to visit high streets more frequently and dwell longer,” said Wehrle.

Springboard said footfall versus the same week in 2019 was down 28.1%.

(Reporting by James Davey, Editing by Paul Sandle; Editing by Toby Chopra)