May 17, 2020 / 11:10 PM / 8 days ago

Visitors to UK shops vanish during virus lockdown: survey

FILE PHOTO: A general view as people shop in Brixton following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, May 14, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - The number of Britons visiting shops collapsed in April as the economy shut down to stem the spread of the coronavirus, a survey showed on Monday.

The British Retail Consortium trade body and retail data firm ShopperTrak said footfall — the number of people visiting stores — dropped 84.7% year-on-year.

“Lockdown has dramatically cut footfall traffic across retail locations, with the majority of physical stores closed to the public,” Helen Dickinson, BRC chief executive, said.

“The fall has been slightly less dramatic in retail parks where a high proportion of supermarkets and other essential stores have remained open, slightly mitigating the overall reduction in footfall.”

Last week, the BRC said its members reported a 19.1% drop in total sales last month compared with April last year, the biggest fall since it began its monthly index in 1995.

Many retail firms are shutting stores to cut costs and focus on online operations.

According to official figures, Britain’s economy shrank by a record 6% in March, when a widespread lockdown began towards the end of the month.

Reporting by Andy Bruce; Editing by William Schomberg

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