Dec 2, 2020
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Christmas retail footfall to plummet despite reopening frenzy predicts ParcelHero

Dec 2, 2020

It’s being dubbed ‘Welcome-Back Wednesday’ but the anticipated shopping frenzy on England’s high streets is likely to be short-lived, forecasts ParcelHero.

'Welcome-Back Wednesday': high street retail opens again after second lockdown - Photo: Pexels/Public domain

A resurgent high street following the end of the second lockdown will do little to offset the surge in online shopping, with the home delivery firm predicting a 50% year-on-year fall in Christmas retail footfall, despite extended shopping hours.

It said the end of the first lockdown proved a damp squib for town centre stores and Arcadia and Debenhams shouldn’t pin their hopes on a last-minute Christmas bounce-back that might make them more attractive to possible buyers. It noted that when stores reopened in June after the first lockdown, the initial flurry soon collapsed, with footfall down 58.4% year-on-year in the weeks following reopening.

“This time around, circumstances are even more prohibitive. The combination of strict regional tiers and cold weather are unlikely to entice shoppers back to the high street at the end of Lockdown 2.0”, said ParcelHero’s head of Consumer Research, David Jinks.

“In the weeks after the first lockdown ended, high street footfall was nearly 60% down YOY, according to the British Retail Consortium. It looks highly likely the same 'retail wretchedness' will be repeated on the high street over the Christmas season.

Citing the latest ONS research that found 46% of Britons remain ‘actively scared’ about contracting coronavirus when going outside, it believes cautious consumers will be doing their best to avoid busy shops over Christmas.

"At the end of the last lockdown, 70% of shoppers were ‘not comfortable’ about returning to shops, according to research from consultants EY [so] it stands to reason... that faced with a choice between staying safe and warm shopping online or braving the winter weather, most shoppers will choose the former. 

"That’s why we predict town centre footfall will be over 50% down on last year, while online will grab just over half of all retail sales for the first time”.

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