Dec 3, 2020
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'Wild Wednesday'? England's reopened stores are busy, but not frenzied

Dec 3, 2020

Stores in England were ultra-busy on Wednesday as non-essential shops were allowed to reopen, retailers went the extra mile to make their locations appealing and consumers rushed to buy bargains or to do Christmas shopping.

New West End Company

Springboard said footfall was up almost 87% compared to last Wednesday, a much bigger increase than when stores opened in the summer.

The company assigned it to the need to buy festive goods plus “lockdown fatigue”.

That said, footfall remained much lower than a year ago (down 22% in England and down by a third in city centres), and Barclaycard said spending overall was almost 14% lower than it had been on Black Friday when stores were still closed. The day had been billed as “Wild Wednesday” and it only partially lived up to that name.

But at least retail parks did well and were down only 4% compared to this time last year, which reflects their strength compared to other destinations all year.

Certain stores saw queues in retail parks, but also on major shopping streets and in malls, even if Wednesday didn’t quite see a shopping frenzy. 

Debenhams branches attracted a lot of shoppers as consumers sought to snap up bargains in the firm's giant closing down sale.

Primark, Nike Town and Foot Locker on London’s Oxford Street were also among those shops to attract large queues, which would have been encouraging given how hard destination city centres like the West End of London have been hit by low footfall this year.

New West End Company CEO Jace Tyrrell said: “We have seen a consistent stream of shoppers in the West End today, with footfall up 165% compared with last week. It's wonderful to see the district's iconic stores once again open for business, but we still have much to do if they are to make back some of their lost trade in these vital few weeks to Christmas. Year on year, our numbers are down by 56%, so we hope to welcome our valued customers to come and enjoy some much needed festive cheer while supporting the high street.”

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