Two in five shop­pers are still steer­ing clear of high street

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By Rus­sell Lynch

NER­VOUS shop­pers are still shun­ning the high street more than a month af­ter non-es­sen­tial stores were al­lowed to re­open, the Of­fice for Na­tional Statis­tics (ONS) has said.

Foot­fall was still less than 60pc of its level a year ago in the seven days to July 26 de­spite a mod­er­ate pick-up from the pre­vi­ous week, fig­ures pro­vided to the ONS by data firm Spring­board show.

Re­tail parks per­formed more strongly but vis­i­tor num­bers are still more than one fifth lower than in 2019, with lit­tle change since mid-June.

The ONS’s lat­est eco­nomic in­dica- tors also sug­gest that the embattled hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try re­mains de­pen­dent on the tax­payer-funded fur­lough scheme, de­spite bars and res­tau­rants re­open­ing their doors on July 4.

The ONS’s lat­est sur­vey of more than 24,000 busi­nesses also found that 43pc of staff in hos­pi­tal­ity and leisure firms re­main on fur­lough. Although 18pc of staff in the in­dus­try have gone back to work over the past two weeks, in­dus­try lobby groups have warned of a steep rise in un­em­ploy­ment when the scheme be­gins to be curbed at the end of July.

The fig­ures are likely to spark more con­cern at the Bank of England over the re­cov­ery’s strength as of­fi­cials pre­pare for a pol­icy meet­ing next week.

Mean­while, signs of a jobs re­cov­ery re­main slim, with ad­verts on the Adzuna web­site stand­ing at just 52pc of their aver­age last year. The Of­fice for Bud­get Re­spon­si­bil­ity has pre­dicted as many as 3.5m peo­ple could be un­em­ployed by next year.

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