Boxing Day sales hit hard by lockdown

Footfall on Boxing Day was down by more than 50 per cent as the retail sector faces ongoing disaster throughout the controversial lockdowns which have forced so-called non-essential retailers to close.

Retail analyst, Springboard, said visitor traffic at 10.00 on Boxing Day was down 57 per cent compared with 2019 levels.

Areas still in tiers 2 and 3 had some busy shops and streets, but with 43 per cent of England currently in tier 4, the overall picture was one of quiet or closed shops.

The insights director at Springboard, Diane Wehrle, said: “[The sales are] not going to be normal in the slightest. That’s really because much of the country is under tier 4 restrictions, which is going to severely impact Boxing Day sales and push people online.

“But there’s a bit of comfort-buying coming into play, because people can’t go out, which is good for retailers. The problem is, for the majority of retailers the sales they get online are much smaller than what they get in store.”

Professor Joshua Bamfielde of The Centre for Retail Research said the tier 4 restrictions had “ripped the heart out of Boxing Day sales”. He said: “We had been expecting offline (bricks and mortar stores) to provide hard-pressed retailers with sales of £2,260m, and even this would have been 25% down on last year, but £1,450m must be lower than any year since 1999.

“Online retail has risen higher to compensate for the fact that non-essential stores are all closed in tier 4 areas, but only by 5%. Christmas sales were always going to be problematic in times of Covid-19 but these figures are a disaster for the sector.”

In the luckier lower tier areas, shoppers queued up for seasonal discounts outside stores such as Next, in a stark contrast with London’s deserted streets. On Boxing Day London and the South East were joined in tier 4 restrictions by regions including Sussex, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.

High streets in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were also closed for the most part, whilst Marks & Spencer joined John Lewis in deciding to remain closed nationwide.

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