UK Shopper Numbers Rise After Launch of State-Funded Dining Scheme

LONDON—Shopper numbers, or footfall, across all British retail destinations rose 3.8 percent last week from the previous week, with the start of a state-funded eating out scheme helping evening traffic more than lunchtimes, industry data showed on Monday.

Britains retail and hospitality sectors, already struggling with high rents and business taxes, were hit particularly hard by the coronavirus lockdown and thousands of job losses have been announced.

To get the country spending again the 500 million pound ($653 million) “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme offers 50 percent off the bill for eat-in food and drink—up to 10 pounds per person, excluding alcohol—on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August.

A woman wearing a face covering
A woman wearing a face covering talks on her phone outside a shop following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Liverpool on Aug.10, 2020. (Phil Noble/Reuters)

The government hopes the unprecedented subsidy, along with cuts to value-added tax for the hospitality sector, will help to reduce job losses at restaurants, cafes, bars, and pubs, which employ 1.8 million people.

Official data published last month showed that UK retail sales excluding fuel were back to year-ago levels in June, but the recovery was driven by a boom in online shopping and extra spending at supermarkets as people ate out less.

Market researcher Springboard said that footfall rose 4.5 percent in UK shopping streets in the week to Aug. 8 compared with the previous week. It was up 3.3 percent in retail parks and up 3 percent in shopping centres.

Between Monday and Wednesday, during the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, footfall rose in retail destinations across the United KinRead More – Source