Shoppers expected to make cautious return to high street as lockdown eases

Next during Covid19

English high streets are on course for a slow restart when non-essential retailers reopen next week, with many consumers reluctant to head to the shops.

Only a quarter of shoppers feel comfortable visiting the supermarket, according to research. It comes as non-food retailers in England prepare for the government to loosen restrictions.

From Monday, thousands of department, clothing and other stores will be permitted to open for the first time since the lockdown.

While supermarkets have remained open, the accountancy firm EY found that only 25 per cent of shoppers felt comfortable visiting them. Its survey indicated that 45 per cent of UK consumers believe the way they shop will change over the next two years. Almost two thirds of respondents expected to go shopping less frequently.

It found that 67 per cent of consumers expected “months or years” to pass before they visited a restaurant. Some 73 per cent said the same about pubs.

Silvia Rindone, partner in consumer products and retail at EY, said that businesses “will need to be aware of consumers’ heightened concerns and make every effort to mitigate anxiety” if they were to prosper.

EY polled 1,017 people in the UK last month for its Future Consumer Index.