The number of people visiting High Streets surged on “Super Saturday”, as hairdressers, pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants reopened in England after a three-month lockdown.
Research firm Springboard said footfall was 19.7% higher than last week, rising sharply after 17:00 BST.
Footfall in the evening rose 26% in central London, 29.4% in regional cities, and 21.9% in historic towns.
“Part of this is likely to be due to the reopening of hairdressers and barbers, the vast majority of which are located in High Streets, rather than shopping centres or retail parks,” said Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard.
“And post 5pm, the rise in footfall in High Streets from the week before at 35.8%, was double that of retail destinations generally, due to the presence of pubs and bars.”
In Scotland, footfall jumped by 69.7% from the previous Saturday, due to it being the first weekend of trading since the relaxation of the five-mile travel restriction.
However, overall the numbers of visits to High Streets in England were down 56% year-on-year and remained 68.4% lower in Scotland.
Restaurants, hairdressers and cinemas were allowed to reopen in England just after midnight, with some hair salons welcoming clients in the early hours.
There were long queues seen outside a barbers in south London for much of Saturday.
But some 31% of bars, pubs and restaurants are not opening yet, according to the Night-Time Industries Association, amid fears for safety and warnings, while the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) said as many as half of England’s pubs might stay shut this weekend.
Streets were packed in London’s Soho district, with images showing revellers outside pubs into the early hours of Sunday.
The Metropolitan Police said “a small number” of premises closed early following advice from officers due to crowding, but the force added that there were “no significant issues” in the capital.
In north Nottinghamshire, four people were arrested and several pubs decided to close after alcohol related anti-social behaviour.
People in England are still urged to stay 2m apart, but the new “one metre plus” guidance means they can get closer if they use “mitigation” measures, such as face coverings and not sitting face-to-face.
Boris Johnson and government experts had urged people to stick to the rules to avoid creating a second wave of coronavirus, with chief medical officer for England Chris Whitty saying easing lockdown is not “risk-free”.
The latest government figures, released on Sunday, showed a further 22 people had died in the UK after testing positive for coronavirus, bringing the death toll to 44,220.