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Steady but not spectacular traffic as stores reopen say analysts

Published
Jun 17, 2020
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In a sign of hope for the retail sector after three months of lockdown, images of shoppers waiting in long queues outside reopened stores were widely shared across social media on Monday. But experts have warned that the shiny return of the high street may not be all it seems, with some big name retailers seeing little activity across the first two days of the week.


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There was a clear set of winners and losers over the first two days of shops reopening, retail analysts told The Daily Telegraph.

While Primark, Sports Direct and TK Maxx were particularly busy with crowds of shoppers eager to get their hands on new season items, queues at other stores were less significant.

Additionally, some people were left disappointed after discovering that not all stores had reopened, with some retailers taking a phased approach to store comebacks.

“Our immediate reaction is that trade has been steady rather than anything better,” Peel Hunt brokers Jonathan Pritchard and John Stevenson, who were in Milton Keynes and Manchester, told The Telegraph. “The newswires have focused on the queues outside Primark stores, but when we got inside we could barely see another shopper.” 
  
Analysts at Jefferies visited four shopping locations across England and found that there was a tangible gap between winners and losers, with Primark, TK Maxx and sporting goods retailers among the former and Next and Marks & Spencer among the latter.

“[Data from analysts at Springboard] suggests shoppers were ready to re-engage… Still, we found a very heterogeneous landscape, with many units still shuttered,” Jefferies analysts said.

Footfall was up by 38% compared with last week, when non-essential stores were still closed, but the figure remained a third lower than a year ago, according to Springboard, a research firm.

Good weather across most of England helped boost numbers of shoppers, as it made queueing easier.

Meanwhile, a separate report from GlobalData forecasted that retail spend and footfall will take a long time to return to pre-Covid levels. According to the data analytics company, job security worries and concerns about a second wave are likely to impact shoppers’ visits to physical stores throughout the year, leaving a £37 billion hole in non-food spend.

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