High Street woes: shopper numbers still 40 per cent down on last year

With many shops now reopening some concerning news for the future of many High Street is out today as shopper counts show numbers are 40 per cent below the same week last year.

Hot weather is believed to have played a part last week but this continues a theme since the reopening of shops, pubs and restaurants. Shopping centres – often air conditioned – saw a drop of 37 per cent on the same period last year.

Bexleyheath Broadway

While many headlines proclaim “numbers are massively up” that means little compared to, say April, when nothing was open. You often have to go quite a few paragraphs into many stories in the press before the year-on-year figure is revealed.


We’ve already seen a lot of retailers announce cuts but how many will follow? The downturn affects high streets, shopping centres and retail parks. Just yesterday I wrote how Wickes in Charlton are closing as parent company Travis Perkins cuts 2,500 jobs nationwide.

And over the weekend I covered consultation on plans to demolish Lewisham shopping centre. This long predates 2020 and already highlighted tan ongoing trend in retail – which is now exacerbated.



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I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

    11 thoughts on “High Street woes: shopper numbers still 40 per cent down on last year

    • I’m just back from shopping in Bexleyheath and thought it was quite busy

    • To be honest, the masks and all the social distancing measures make shopping an unappealing experience, so I don’t bother go shopping (other than for food) – speaking to friends and family
      I know i’m not the only one!
      They must drop the social distancing rules (just make sure people wash there hands and observe basic hygiene standards) and masks should be optional in order for the high street and hospitality, industry to survive. They simply can’t survive unless they have a certain occupancy/footfall.
      The unemployment rate and the knock-on effects (leading to more deaths) are only going to get worse!

    • Mask wearing is certainly making lingering in shops and on the high street difficult. I am compliant, but after a couple of hours wearing a mask, I just want to be able to take it off.

      M&S today announced that 7,000 more jobs are going, which will mean store closures too.

    • So sad to hear of further job losses in the retail sector including the 7,000 announced at M&S,

      I think we now need to look at opening stores later in the evenings so people can shop after work etc with out all needing to be in stores at the same time which will also help with social distancing at busy times.

      The Government may also need to look at Sunday trading laws again to see if any changes are needed to support retailers and hopefully protect the remaining retail jobs.

      This may also help to support other businesses like pubs and restaurants in the evenings and at the weekends.

    • I totally agree CDT.. I think opening shops later in the evenings and for longer on Sundays is what is needed for our retailers and our High Streets and Shopping Centres like Lewisham, Bexleyheath and the Glades in Bromley. Sunday’s is one of the busiest shopping days of the week.

      So more people can physically go out and shop which will help our retailers while helping us to get more active and help fight obesity.

    • Opening hours is not the problem and in the case of M&S, it’s a blank refusal to listen to what customers want. The food is too expensive with clothing and footwear fuddy duddy. The best thing about M&S is that the shops are often a cut through to somewhere else – Bromley and Lewisham are two such examples.

      • I agree the food is expensive in M&S but the quality of the food is excellent compared to other supermarkets other than Waitrose of course who sell similar type food products of the same high quality. .

        I have to be honest to say I like the M&S Simply Food Stores although I cannot afford to shop there all the time.

        The M&S Simply Food Store on Old Dover Road is normally very busy. I hope this branch will remain open for local residents. If this store closes it will have a major impact on the other independently businesses on Old Dover Road just as much as the ridiculous idea by Greenwich Council to close a part of Old Dover Road to traffic to make room for cyclist.

        Businesses need passing footfall to survive. This is more important than ever following the Covid-19 pandemic which saw many businesses closed for months

        • The Old Dover Road M&S could be closed on the grounds that there is a big M&S in Charlton and I don’t see how it’s closure will impact the other businesses.

          As far as I can tell, all the shops that were forced to close back in March have reopened.

    • My local furniture store in Charlton faces closure .after being sent unlawful business rate demands owned by one family over 30 years .i thought Greenwich council supports small businesses obviously this is not the case .

      • I thought the Government told Councils not to collect business rates for 12 months due to the coronavirus pandemic to help businesses survive through the crisis.

        So this could well be Greenwich Council acting unlawfully.

    • The business owners and local residents support each other on Old Dover Road. Marks and Spencers is well used by local residents who also use a lot of the other shops.

      There is no direct bus route from Blackheath Royal Standard to retail parks on Bugsby Way which includes M&S, Sainsburys and Asda;s as route 335 does not serve them so it is harder for local residents to get to the Charlton M&S Store unless they drive.

      Due to the large shop area and lack of sales in clothes shoes etc the Charlton M&S Store could be more at risk of closure. I think they will try to hold on to M&S simply Food Stores. But only the most senior Managers at M&S know what they have planned.

      As always my thoughts are with the staff who could loose their jobs during this very difficult time of the covid-19 pandemic.


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