Footfall on high street surges by up to half
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.