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Shoppers shun London on Boxing Day as footfall plummets 67 percent

By Don-Alvin Adegeest


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Image: Selfridges

As a queues of shoppers snaked around Selfridges on Oxford Street, eagerly hoping to score a Boxing Day bargain, the rest of central London was eerily quiet, with footfall down 67.3 percent in comparison to 2019, before the pandemic.

Figures from Springboard show a similar fate across all UK retail destinations, with footfall down an average of -45.2 percent below the 2019 level. Despite the cold weather, high streets faired better than shopping centres, with -35.6 percent compared to -59.8 percent.

The trend amongst shoppers for staying local has been a key characteristic all the way through the pandemic which has heightened once again in the past few weeks with the surge of the omicron variant which threatened so many Christmases across the UK, remains prevalent. Footfall in market towns up to 12pm on Boxing Day was just -12.6 percent below the 2019 level and -7.4 percent below 2019 in Outer London.

Covid restrictions impact shoppers

New Covid restrictions came into force in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on Boxing Day as the nations try to halt the surge in infections. This would have an impact on the number of shoppers hitting the sales.

Northern Ireland footfall plummeted 73 percent, with Wales seeing a 63 percent decline and almost 50 percent lower in Scotland compared to 2019. Despite the drop, large queues formed outside the Trafford Centre in Manchester with shoppers waiting since 8am, reported the Evening Stands, while bargain hunters also lined up outside Primark in Birmingham and Zara in Bristol.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard commented: “A major reason for the significantly lower footfall compared with 2019 will be due to consumers and ongoing nervousness about the Covid infection rate. This will have been compounded by the fact that a few multiple retailers opted not to open today, which will have deterred some shoppers. In addition, Sunday generally has the lowest footfall on any day in the week, so a comparison with 2019 when Boxing Day fell on a Thursday will always have meant that footfall would be lower than two years ago. Despite this, the fact that most multiple retailers still opened their doors to shoppers, and the mild weather should have meant that it was easy for shoppers to visit stores and destinations still did not encourage shoppers out to shop.”

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