Foot traffic plunged dramatically in the United Kingdom this April as shoppers stayed home amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.
According to data from the British Retail Consortium and ShopperTrak, the number of shop visitors fell by 84.7% in April 2020 compared with the same period a year prior. The BRC had previously reported that its members saw a 19.1% sales decline in April 2020 versus 2019 — the largest drop since it began its monthly index in 1995.
The British economy could be headed for a recession, economists warn, due the coronavirus pandemic. Last week, the Office for National Statistics announced that the U.K.’s gross domestic product shrank by 2% in the first three months of the year, marking the largest decline since the 2008 financial crisis. In March alone, the economy fell by a record 5.8%, the biggest month drop since record-keeping began, as the pandemic forced the government to impose strict lockdown measures. The country spent nearly all of April in lockdown due to the virus. However, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has begun to ease measures this month, with employees, particularly those in the manufacturing sector, returning to work. By June 1, a phased reopening of shops is expected to commence.
Earlier this month, the Bank of England forecasted that the nation’s economy could shrink by roughly 30% in the first half of the year if lockdown measures remain in place through June. Even though it predicted a recovery in the second half, the central bank expects that the economy will slump 14% by the end of the year and could see its sharpest downturn since 1706.