U.K. Retail Visits Up for Sixth Week as Brits Enjoy New Freedom

Britons are continuing to return to the stores following England’s full loosening of Covid-19 restrictions in July, with data Thursday showing a sixth consecutive rise in weekly footfall. 

Visits to shops in the week to Aug. 14 rose 2% compared with the week before, the Office for National Statistics said, citing Springboard data. OpenTable data also show the number of seated diners exceeded pre-pandemic levels by around a third for the week to Aug. 16. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government is counting on consumers spending savings hoarded during the pandemic to power the recovery from last year’s slump. 

Sales have followed a volatile path during a year of on-off restrictions. Figures Friday are forecast to show a moderation in the pace of growth to 0.2% during July, leaving sales around 6% higher than a year earlier. 

U.K. Retail Visits Up for Sixth Week as Brits Enjoy New Freedom

For now, retail footfall is still far below pre-pandemic levels, particularly in high streets and shopping centers where visits are little more than three quarters of the equivalent week in 2019.

Real-time indicators collated by the ONS also found: 

  • Footfall in retail parks stood at 98% of 2019 levels
  • Credit and debit card purchases were at 94% of their February 2020 average for the week to Aug. 12, a decline of 5 percentage points on the previous week: Bank of England CHAPS data

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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