Boxing Day sales: Footfall plummets in central London as Omicron rips through city

The number of shoppers hunting for a bargain in the Boxing Day sales in person has plummeted as the Omicron variant of Covid continues to rip through the capital.

Footfall at shopping sites in Central London on Boxing Day up to 12 noon was 67 per cent below the 2019 level, according to data from retail expert Springboard.

Despite queues outside Selfridges, Boots, Primark, Disney and Zara on Oxford Street, the number of people braving the popular shopping spot on December 26 is a fraction of pre-pandemic levels.

READ MORE: Boxing Day sales: Oxford Street unusually bare as Omicron concerns and bad weather hit London

It comes as new Covid figures show one in 10 Londoners had coronavirus last week as the Omicron strain has brought parts of London to a standstill.

Although research suggests that Omicron has a much lower chance of hospitalising people, the record-breaking number of cases is causing its own crisis with key workers and hospitality staff forced to isolate – with one London hospital trust recording almost 900 staff off sick due to self-isolation.

Queueing outside the Disney store on Oxford Street to shop on her daughter’s behalf, Nic Portway told the PA news agency she was not planning on spending much in the sales – but was happy to still go to the shops in person despite the rise in Covid cases.

She said: “I am not really surprised by how many people are out because we have got to get on with it, there is always going to be another variant so what do we do?

“We can’t keep locking down every time there is a new variant otherwise everything will just stop.”

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Another shopper said she only came out on Boxing Day because her planned Christmas Day online shopping at Zara fell through due to an error on the app.

The woman said: “I was surprised to see this many people out and about, when I walked down Oxford Circus there was hardly anyone around, but then when I arrived at Oxford Street there were big queues, all around the corners.”

Masks were worn by most shoppers on Oxford Street, whether in a queue or walking around – but many of the shops were not full of people.

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