Customers seemed a little more cautious on the day when face wraps became mandatory in UK stores, according to store data.
The number of customers declined by 0.2% on Friday compared to the previous Friday, after a week of relatively steady traffic growth to shops and supermarkets.
Friday was the first day that shoppers in England were required by law to wear a face covering or risk a fine.
Anyone who ignores the rules without an exemption risks a fine of £ 100 – reduced to £ 50 if paid quickly.
Data from the Spring Intelligence company Springboard revealed the drop in visitor numbers in England compared to modest growth among shoppers elsewhere in the UK, where different facial coverage regulations are in effect.
Traffic to shops increased by 5.9% in Scotland, 2% in Northern Ireland and 1.7% in Wales on Friday.
Diane Wehrle, Springboard’s director of marketing and insights, said, “It appears that on the first day of mandatory masks in shops and closed destinations in England, shoppers were cautious about taking trips.”
But she added, “The number of visitors may increase in the coming days and weeks as consumers become accustomed to wearing masks.”
It is encouraging to other retailers that Scotland, the country with the strongest growth, was required to apply face covering in stores on July 10.
Face masks are advised in Wales in situations where social distance is not possible, but are not yet mandatory in shops.
They will be mandatory on public transport networks in Wales from Monday.
Northern Ireland made facial coverings mandatory for public transport on July 10 and could also become legally necessary in shops if the public does not voluntarily take them over in significant numbers.
Despite the relaxation of the lockdown measures, the number of visitors in the UK on Friday still fell by 36% to 41% compared to the same period last year.