Two in five shoppers are still steering clear of high street
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.