Freedom Day does not have desired effect on city shoppers

Shoppers around Norwich Market staying safe in masks. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Shoppers around Norwich Market staying safe in masks. Picture: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Freedom Day has not been the liberation the high street had hoped for, according to new figures. 

Nearly three weeks have passed since Boris Johnson lifted all measures of social distancing on Britain - but it appears the public did not feel confident enough to hit the shops in their droves. 

According to latest figures from Google, the week before July 19 saw an average of 3pc of people return to retail units in the city, when compared to January 2020. 

In supermarkets this figure stayed exactly the same at 17pc compared to pre-pandemic levels, and the same with public transport sitting at -26pc. 

In Norfolk more generally it seems that shoppers are regaining some confidence - on average footfall is down -14pc when compared to the start of 2020 after Freedom Day, as opposed to -22pc before July 19.

Paul Swinney, director of policy and research at think tank Centre for Cities, said: "The pingdemic and rising Covid cases appear to have stymied the recovery of the high street. But there has definitely been a vaccine boost that has seen more people return to the high street this year than last.

"Given this, if covid cases come down we would expect the recovery to resume again, and some spending to swing back to bricks and mortar from online both during the day and in the evening."

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A spokesman for the Norwich Lanes said: "It’s totally understandable that some people are still very wary about coming into the city, especially from rural locations.

"It is however, well worth remembering, that the independent businesses in the Lanes are often family owned and the safety of their customers and staff is paramount.

“Footfall may be down on previous years but the Lanes have a very loyal customer base and the businesses I have talked to recently, appear to be very happy with their trading figures in July."