Areas in Tier 3 saw the number of people attending shops fall by 43 per cent while Tier 2 areas reported a 38 per cent decrease.
Insights Director at Springboard, Diane Wehrle, said that the public had grown “fearful” of the new coronavirus strain and that the dramatic drop in footfall although “disappointing” came as no surprise.
Ms Wehrle told the Telegraph: “The significant drop in footfall is what we would have expected to see given how much of the locations we monitor are in Tier 4.
“Boxing Day is an iconic retail day but actually its been dropping over the past seven years with last year falling by nine per cent from 2018.”
The boom of online shopping is responsible for this steady decline with the majority of retailers relying on physical sales to sustain them, Ms Wehrle added. Asked whether the Government’s repeated warning about rising rates of infections had deterred would-be customers from attending the Boxing Day sales she said:
“I do think people are quite fearful now there is news of the new (Covid) strain. The message is hitting home, which is a good thing.”
Many retail giants including John Lewis, Aldi and Waitrose had decided to close their doors on Boxing Day.
Sales at shops are still predicted to plunge by 56 per cent to £1.4billion, according to the Centre for Retail Research and VoucherCodes.co.uk.
Trade is forecast to drop by 26 per cent to £3.2billion, falling for the third year in a row despite the rise in online sales.