DESPITE Boxing Day sales, tighter coronavirus curbs across the UK meant footfall at retail destinations dived by almost a quarter last week, according to new figures.

Retail researcher Springboard said that shopper numbers slid by 23.2% in the week to January 2, compared with the previous week.

It came after millions more people were placed into level 4 restrictions across mainland Scotland, alert level 4 across all of Wales and Tier 4 restrictions across virtually all of England, which require the closure of non-essential stores, in a bid to quell rising virus case numbers.

The figures revealed that footfall in shopping centres tumbled by 31.8% compared with the previous week.

Meanwhile, footfall on high streets fell by 21.9% while retail park footfall was 16.8% lower week-on-week.

Total footfall across UK retail destinations was 55.7% lower than in the same week last year, before the virus impacted the country.

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Footfall in areas with higher restrictions was 72.2% lower than last year, while those in the lower restriction areas saw a 33.9% year-on-year decline, Springboard said.

Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, said: “The end of the festive trading period and tightened government restrictions unsurprisingly saw footfall in UK retail destinations drop significantly at the end of 2020.

“Moving into a new year, with the extension of Tier 4 across virtually all of England and lockdowns in place in the devolved nations, retailers are unlikely to see any respite until restrictions are eased in the coming weeks or months.

“We know from our experience of retail reopening in June 2020 that until the widespread rollout of the vaccine, retail footfall will remain significantly below the pre-Covid level.”

The news comes amid reports of nearly 180,000 retail jobs being lost in 2020 with the Centre for Retail Research (CRR) warning 2021 will see even more jobs going.

The CRR has predicted that up to 200,000 jobs could go from UK retail this year as coronavirus restrictions continue to accelerate a move towards online shopping.

The forecast is based on combined effects of months of closure, the impact on cashflow and rent arrears payable when the moratorium ends.