// Footfall has jumped by almost 2% following end of Plan B work from home guidance
// Bira and Usdaw call for ‘certainty’ regarding the legal requirement to wear face masks in shops
Footfall in retail destinations across the UK jumped by almost 2% today, following yesterday’s announcement that the Plan B work from home guidance had come to an end.
Today marked the first day that many commuters were travelling to work since the Plan B measures were introduced in December last year to slow the spread of Omicron.
“Following the announcement of the end of the Plan B work from home guidance, footfall in UK retail destinations up to 2pm today was 1.9% higher than yesterday and 0.2% higher than on the same day last week,” revealed Diane Wehrle, Springboard’s insights director.
“Footfall in regional cities outside of the capital was 1.9% higher than last week and 1.2% higher than yesterday,” she added. “In Central London, however, the uplift was even greater – 3.7% higher than last week and 5.1% from yesterday.”
Even more promisingly, the Springboard Back to the Office Benchmark (taken from locations close to offices) rose by 7.3% compared to last week and 4.3% from yesterday.
“We forecast that footfall will continue to rise over the next few weeks as employers reopen their offices, and announce to staff that they can return,” Wehrle concluded.
Meanwhile, there is some hesitancy regarding the wholesale return to the Plan A version of normality, with both British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) and Usdaw emphasising the need for clarity and certainty.
“It is a positive sign to see the Omicron wave abating, but we hope that the decision to remove some of the regulations is based on science rather that political reasoning,” stated Bira’s CEO Andrew Goodacre.
“Retail businesses need certainty and we want to be sure that retailers do not need to re-introduce these measures in the near future because the government has acted in haste.”
Paddy Lillis, general secretary of retail trade union Usdaw, has expressed deep disappointment that the government will end the mandatory wearing of face covering in shops in England next week, adding that “constantly changing the rules is unhelpful”.
“We are deeply concerned that the decision to again end mandatory face coverings in shops is more to do with saving the Prime Minister’s job than covid safety,” Lillis said.
“We understand that the Government has to scale back ‘Plan B’, but surely this should be done in a more measured and gradual manner.”
He urged shoppers to “show their support and respect for shopworkers” by continuing to wear a face covering when in store.
The legal requirement to wear face masks in shops will come to an end next Thursday, 27 January.
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