Discussion paper

DP15995 Covid-19 and Shopping Streets

Using Wi-Fi data, we examine the effects of Covid-19 policies on the retail sector by examining their effects on footfall, i.e. the number of shoppers passing by. We distinguish between the effects of (i) lockdowns; (ii) face mask requirements; and (iii) social distancing. Lockdowns reduce footfall by 50% in Dutch shopping streets, implying a reduction in retail income of 25%. These effects are stronger in dense shopping streets. We also find strong reductions in footfall because of social distancing. In shopping streets where face masks are required outdoors, footfall dip by 25%, implying a retail income reduction of 12%. Nearby streets are also negatively affected. Conversely, we do not find any effect on footfall associated with policies requiring face masks inside shops.


Koster, H, C Tang, J van Ommeren and N Bras (2021), ‘DP15995 Covid-19 and Shopping Streets‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 15995. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp15995