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Coronavirus: 'Alarming' rise in shoppers on the high street despite lockdown

Shopper footfall increased by 9.5% on Saturday 4 April compared with the same day a week ago. (PA)

There was an “alarming uplift” in the number of people visiting shops last weekend, despite government calls to stay at home, according to new data.

Although there was an 81% decline in footfall last week compared with the same period last year, according to figures from retail data specialist Springboard there were widespread reports of people ignoring advice to stay home as the weather improved with sunshine and warmer temperatures over the weekend.

Shopper footfall increased by 9.5% on Saturday 4 April compared with the same day a week ago and the number rose 21.3% on the Sunday, despite repeated government warnings on the health and safety implications of visiting public spaces.

All shops other than those providing “essential” services have been shut under the UK’s coronavirus lockdown rules.

The greatest increase on Sunday was seen in London with the number of people on the streets going up by 51%.

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Other large cities were 31% busier and the number of people out and about in coastal towns across the UK rose by 30%, according to Springboard’s report.

The report noted that these are “key locations for leisure trips but less significant for essential shopping,” suggesting people are disregarding advice only to go out for essential trips.

All shops other than those providing “essential” services have been shut under the UK’s coronavirus lockdown rules.

“With the warm weather set to continue over the four-day Easter weekend, this brings into question what further measures the government will need to enforce to curtail this movement,” Springboard said.

“With the closure of all but essential stores, the four-day bank holiday weekend will be unrecognisable in what is usually the most important trading period for retailers outside of Christmas.”

The government has warned that lockdown restrictions may be increased with parks closed and outdoor exercise banned if the public fails to observe the social distancing rules in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus and protect the NHS.

One London council closed a park on Sunday, saying thousands of people had ignored guidelines during the warm weather. Lambeth Council closed Brockwell Park as over 3,000 people visited on Saturday, with some sunbathing and gathering in large groups.

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The health secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News: “The vast majority of people are following the public health advice, which is absolutely critical, and staying at home.

“But there are a small minority of people who are still not doing that — it's quite unbelievable frankly to see that there are some people who are not following the advice.”

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