Jul 13, 2021
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Britons anxious over 'Freedom Day', Covid surge, could avoid stores - survey

Jul 13, 2021

‘Freedom Day’ isn’t shaping up to be what Britons were expecting just a few weeks ago. New research reveals a hefty 68.5% of consumers now oppose plans to end distancing measures and mask-wearing in stores.

Photo: Nigel Taylor

The report by home delivery firm ParcelHero even warns the relaxations will damage consumer confidence “and drive shoppers back online”.

So the 19 July date retailers were so eagerly looking forward to “could do more harm than good”, the report adds, pointing to the fact that, as Covid cases surge, the increase in high street footfall has already faltered over the last fortnight, backed up by Springboard’s later figures published Monday.

Calls for continued mask-wearing and distancing measures are also backed up by a new Ipsos MORI poll for The Economist. It showed that 70% of Britons want face masks to remain compulsory in shops and on public transport for one month after 19 July, while 64% would like such restrictions to remain in place until coronavirus is under control worldwide.

“With that in mind, if it’s confirmed that compulsory mask-wearing will end on Freedom Day, the government and retailers shouldn’t be surprised if shoppers abandon the High Street rather than compromise their health or holiday plans”, ParcelHero’s head of Consumer Research, David Jinks, said. 

“Of course, everyone yearns for the pandemic to be over. The so-called ‘Freedom Day’ is the opposite of that, however. The end to mask-wearing and queues outside stores will restore the optics of normality, but these are the very measures that will enable the virus to spread faster than ever”.

Meanwhile, ParcelHero also said it has seen home delivery and parcel volumes grow 7% in the last fortnight. “This indicates that consumers are making more e-commerce purchases and reducing personal visits to friends and family”, it claims.

The company added: “Freedom Day plans seem to put the needs of the economy above public health. The irony is that ending Covid precautions is likely to put High Street retail back on life support”. 

Earlier this year, before the rise of the Delta variant, research conducted by ParcelHero revealed that two-thirds of consumers say they will never return to their pre-pandemic high street shopping habits.

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