High street visits up 138% since last year

High streets have “led the charge” of festive shopping as customers return to physical stores, with footfall rising 6.2 per cent in a week.

However, this is thought to be partly down to Christmas lights being switched on in town centres.

According to Springboard, footfall leapt 10.4 per cent on Wednesday and 13.1 per cent on Friday.

It proved well above the retail average, which saw a 4.1 per cent boost in traffic overall when taking shopping centres and parks into account.

READ MORE: Cut business rates to save high street, urge ‘red wall’ Tories

High street visits have more than doubled since last year, up 137.9 per cent on average, but are down 11.9 per cent on 2019.

“The beginning of the Christmas trading period began in earnest in many retail destinations last week,” Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle said.

“Across the week as a whole, the increase in footfall last week was nearly three times that of the week before.

“High streets led the charge – undoubtedly supported by Christmas lights being switched on in town centres across the UK.”

Separate data from NielsenIQ showed online grocery sales slipped 8.6 per cent in the four weeks to November 6.

The footfall boost will be welcome news for the high street, which has taken a battering during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak disappointed Conservative and Labour MPs last month when he refused to scrap business rates in the Autumn Statement.

The system is seen as punishing small businesses while protecting internet giants.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves recently pledged to replace business rates with digital sales taxes.

Taking a swipe at Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, she added: “If you can afford to fly to space, you can pay your taxes here on Earth.”

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