Primark has said it will lose an additional £220m in sales as more stores are forced to close under new restrictions to control the spread of Covid-19 in the UK.
The cut-price fashion chain’s owner, Associated British Foods, said it expected to lose £650m in sales in the year to September, up from the £430m it had announced on 4 December, after the government said major cities including Manchester and Birmingham must join London and the south-east of England in closing non-essential shops.
Primark said 253 of its stores would now be temporarily closed from 1 January, just over two-thirds of its outlets globally.
The update comes as retailers brace for further pain after the government announced that all of the north-east of England, Greater Manchester, large parts of the Midlands and the south-west would fall under the strictest tier 4 restrictions from Thursday morning.
The UK’s high streets were largely deserted on Boxing Day, with shopper numbers down more than 60% on last year as people remained at home amid tighter coronavirus restrictions.
Data from the retail consultancy Springboard showed footfall on high streets, in retail parks and shopping centres on Boxing Day collapsed by nearly 76% in areas with tier 4 restrictions, where all non-essential shops selling things such as clothes, toys, furniture and electrical items were shut. Even in tiers 2 and 3, where all shops were allowed to open, footfall was down by 33.1% and 38.5% respectively, as many people opted to stay home.
The UK’s high streets posted a 63.3% fall in shopping numbers compared with Boxing Day 2019; shopping centres were down 65.4%, and retail parks recorded a 45% decline. Marks & Spencer and John Lewis decided to remain closed on Boxing Day this year.