Transactions at Pret a Manger have become a closely watched quick indicator of UK economic activity as an indicator of the number of workers heading to city centers. They fluctuated considerably during the pandemic, with many office workers working from home to protect themselves from Covid-19. Fears over Omicron’s transmissibility coupled with the build-up of festive holidays have led to a sharp decline in Pret a Manger sales in six of seven urban areas, reaching the lowest levels since before the pandemic in January 2020, according to the reports. latest data from ONS.
The latest figures show that overall retail footfall was below normal levels at 81% of pre-pandemic levels seen in the same week of 2019, with the South West maintaining the highest level of footfall. In restaurants, the number of diners sitting in the UK heading into Christmas is higher than the same time last year, but has declined as a percentage compared to the equivalent day in 2019.
While urban hubs and shopping malls are undoubtedly quieter than normal, Covid hasn’t stopped us from spending either online or in stores. Overall, credit and debit card purchases are consistently higher than around this time last year, with many families looking to enjoy a bountiful Christmas together having missed out last year.