UK shopper numbers plummet 27.1% after fresh lockdowns - GulfToday

UK shopper numbers plummet 27.1% after fresh lockdowns

UK Shoppers

Buyers look for bargains in shopping centres.

The number of shoppers heading out to stores, malls and other outlets across Britain fell 27.1 per cent last week from the week before, reflecting the impact of new lockdowns to stem the spread of COVID-19, researcher Springboard said on Monday.

Last Monday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered England into a new national lockdown to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases that threatens to overwhelm parts of the health system.

Under the new rules in England, schools are closed to most pupils, people should work from home if possible, and all hospitality and non-essential shops are closed. Semi-autonomous executives in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have imposed similar measures.

Springboard said that across Britain shopper numbers, or footfall, fell by 35 per cent week-on-week in shopping centres, 26 per cent in high streets and 21.3 per cent in retail parks.

“During the first full working week of 2021 and introduction of lockdown 3.0, the reduction in footfall across UK retail destinations from the week before was nearly as great as that during early November when England entered lockdown 2.0,” said Springboard director Diane Wehrle.

On a year-on-year basis, footfall across all UK retail destinations was 63.8 per cent lower than in the same week last year, Springboard said.

European stocks fell from over 10-month highs on Monday after rallying last week, as investors feared a surge in coronavirus cases across the continent and mainland China could delay an economic recovery.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index fell 0.4 per cent, easing from its February 2020 peak hit on Friday. Germany’s DAX index shed 0.7 per cent after hitting all-time highs last week and France’s CAC 40 was down 0.5 per cent.

Stock exchange operator Euronext said it had resolved a technical issue that affected trading on futures contracts tied to the CAC 40.

Investors piled into undervalued segments of the market including banks, energy and mining last week after a “blue sweep” in the crucial US Senate run-off elections in Georgia raised hopes of larger US fiscal stimulus. Wall Street and Asian stocks hit all-time highs last week, while UK equities added more than 6 per cent.

“What’s driving the market is optimism that we will have more US fiscal stimulus, but the question is are all the prerequisites for a real reflation in place,” said Elwin de Groot, Rabobank’s head of macro strategy.

“I would say the answer to that is no. We still need to cope with the new wave of virus infections, and it’s taking quite a bit of time in many countries to rollout vaccines.”

Germany reported an increase in coronavirus cases even as most of Europe was under the strictest restrictions, while China saw its biggest daily increase in infections in more than five months.

In an effort to curb the spread of the virus, Britain is ramping up its mass rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations as its top medical officer warned that the next few weeks of the pandemic will be the worst yet, with record deaths and cases hitting records.

Oil majors BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Total fell as crude prices retreated on renewed fears around global fuel demand amid rising cases.

Mining stocks shed 0.9 per cent as a stronger dollar weighed on commodity prices.

Banks and financial services companies were among the few gainers, benefitting from a recent rise in borrowing costs, while rate-sensitive utilities dropped 1.4 per cent.

Among individual stocks, Sanofi rose 0.7 per cent after the French drugmaker bought Kymab, a British clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company for an upfront payment of $1.1 billion.

Britain’s biggest sportswear retailer JD Sports jumped 4.7 per cent after it forecast fiscal 2021 profit to be “significantly ahead” of current market expectations.

Britain is facing the worst weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, its chief medical officer said on Monday, with the health service entering a “dangerous time” as deaths and cases hit record highs while a mass vaccination programme picks up steam.

Deaths from the virus have now exceeded 81,000 in the United Kingdom - the world’s fifth-highest toll - with more than 3 million people testing positive. A new, more transmissible variant of the disease is surging through the population, with one in 20 people in parts of London now infected.

In a bid to get on top of the pandemic and to try to restore some degree of normality by the spring, Britain is rushing out its largest ever vaccination programme, with shots to be offered to all those in its top four priority categories - about 15 million people - by the middle of next month.

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