Omicron sent Boxing Day shoppers online, retail experts say

Retail pundits say the Omicron variant has sent shoppers online as the number of bargain hunters looking for Boxing Day sales on Main Street has dropped to nearly half of the levels in the market. ‘before the pandemic.

Footfall to shopping sites across the UK on Boxing Day until noon was 45% below 2019 levels, according to data from industry analyst Springboard.

But the British Retail Consortium said that while many consumers have avoided stores, the industry could see a boost from e-commerce.

Tom Holder, spokesperson for the British Retail Consortium, said: “The spread of Omicron across the UK has increased the share of online spending as many consumers avoid city centers.

“While travel and hospitality spending may be lower than pre-pandemic levels, retailers are waiting to see if this leads to increased spending on retail products, especially food and items. household. “

In central London, attendance was 67% lower than in 2019, while it was 58% lower than 2019 in other major UK cities.

Market towns fared slightly better, with a 12% drop in shopping traffic in 2019, while there was only a 7% drop outside of London.

Boxing Day shoppers stroll through central Cardiff, Wales as new Covid-19 rules take effect (Ben Birchall / PA)

(PA wire)

The volume of traffic on main streets may also have been affected by new coronavirus restrictions that took effect in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland on Sunday, including the wearing of masks in all shops and limiting the size of groups to six inside.

Attendance in Northern Ireland was 73% below 2019 levels, 63% below in Wales and almost 50% below in Scotland.

Despite the drop, large queues formed outside the Trafford Center in Manchester with shoppers waiting since 8 a.m., while bargain hunters also lined up outside Primark in Birmingham and Zara in Bristol.

Shoppers line up for doors to open for the start of Boxing Day sales at Selfridges department store on Oxford Street in London (Jonathan Brady / PA)

(PA wire)

There were also queues outside Selfridges, Boots, Primark, Disney and Zara on Oxford Street in London.

Queuing outside the Disney store on Oxford Street in London to shop on behalf of her daughter, Nic Portway of London told the PA news agency she had no plans to spend a lot in sales but was happy to continue going to stores in person despite the rise in covid cases.

She said: “I’m not really surprised how many people are missing because we have to keep going, there will always be another variation, so what do we do?

“We can’t keep locking every time there is a new variant, otherwise everything will stop. “

Customers start to line up outside Harrods store in Knightsbridge, London, waiting for the Boxing Day sales to start (Jonathan Brady / PA)

(PA wire)

Another customer said she was only out on Boxing Day because her planned Christmas Day online shopping at Zara failed due to an error on the app.

The woman said: “I was surprised to see so many people outside, when I walked down Oxford Circus there was hardly anyone there, but when I got to Oxford Street there were big queues of people. waiting, all around the corners. “

Most Oxford Street shoppers wore masks, whether in a queue or while walking around, but many stores were not crowded.

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Anne G. Cash