Foot­fall on high street surges by up to half

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By Laura Onita and Lizzy Bur­den

REV­ELLERS came out in force over the weekend to cel­e­brate the re­open­ing of pubs, bars and restau­rants af­ter three months of lock­down.

Vis­its to the high street rose by more than a third on Satur­day and were up nearly 50pc on Sun­day in the evening – sug­gest­ing that cus­tomers were ea­ger to re­turn to their favourite eat­ing and drink­ing spots.

The data from Spring­board com­pared the weekend just gone with Satur­day and Sun­day the week be­fore and sug­gests a re­cov­ery is now un­der way for the tot­ter­ing hospi­tal­ity in­dus­try. Nev­er­the­less, weekend foot­fall was still down more than 50pc com­pared with a year ear­lier.

There was a par­tic­u­larly large pickup in Lon­don, with foot­fall al­most two thirds higher on Sun­day.

Diane Wehrle of Spring­board warned that although nor­mal­ity was grad­u­ally re­turn­ing, there was still a long way to go for both shops and leisure busi­nesses.

As cus­tomers en­joyed “Su­per Satur­day”, buy­ing goods in shops was less of a pri­or­ity. Vis­its to shop­ping cen­tres, where there is a lim­ited of­fer­ing of restau­rants with al­co­hol per­mits, were up by 6pc on Satur­day and 10.7pc on Sun­day. In re­tail parks – where the choice is still more lim­ited – vis­i­tor num­bers fell on both Satur­day and Sun­day.

Sep­a­rately, the con­struc­tion in­dus­try surged back to growth in June as build­ing sites be­gan to re­open and the sup­ply chain came back to life.

The IHS Markit/CIPS con­struc­tion pur­chas­ing man­agers’ in­dex surged from a read­ing of 28.9 in May to 55.3 last month, higher than an­a­lysts’ ex­pec­ta­tion of 46. Any­thing above 50 means the sec­tor is grow­ing.

House­build­ing led the re­cov­ery with the fastest rise in ac­tiv­ity for al­most five years, while com­mer­cial and civil engi­neer­ing also pulled back from April’s lows. Tim Moore, of IHS Markit, said: “As the first ma­jor part of the UK econ­omy to be­gin a phased re­turn to work, the strong re­bound in con­struc­tion ac­tiv­ity pro­vides hope to other sec­tors that have suf­fered through the lock­down pe­riod.”

An­drew Wishart of Cap­i­tal Eco­nomics said the sur­vey still sug­gested there would be a sharp fall in em­ploy­ment.

Bar­ring an ex­ten­sion of the fur­lough scheme in the Chan­cel­lor’s state­ment to­mor­row, he ex­pects the job­less rate to climb from 3.9pc in April to a peak of 7pc in mid-2021.

Garry Belsham, of prop­erty con­sul­tant Nai­smiths, said ma­te­ri­als short­ages were forc­ing up com­pa­nies’ costs, while so­cial dis­tanc­ing rules were squeez­ing their pro­duc­tiv­ity.

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