Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he expects a surge in cases as the economy reopens, while London’s West End venues are estimated to have racked up £100mln on Monday.

Speaking to reporters a day after non-essential businesses such as shops and restaurants have reopened, Johnson said that the drop in COVID-19 deaths is not due to the vaccine rollout.

READ: UK retailers to enjoy strong trading for months to come, analysts say

“The bulk of the work in reducing the disease has been done by the lockdown,” he said.

“As we unlock the result will inevitably be that we will see more infections and sadly we will see more hospitalizations and deaths.”

Johnson added that the plans to loosen restrictions will remain as announced.

Videos showing crowds in major city-centre locations on Monday have sparked concern over a potential resurgence in infections if people don’t respect social distancing.

Customers in shops, restaurants and pubs in the capital’s West End may have spent around £100mln on the first day out of lockdown, according to estimates by the Centre for Retail Research.

The figure could be as high as £150mln on Saturday, the Evening Standard reported.

Meanwhile, data from Springboard revealed that footfall in UK retail destinations was only 16% lower on Monday compared to the same day in 2019.

Businesses are hoping for pent-up demand and increased consumer confidence over the next months to recover sales lost during lockdowns.

According to Barclays PLC’s (LON:BARC) Barclaycard, consumer spending declined 7.2% in March 2021 but 26% of the survey participants have already started planning for life after restrictions.

There are good news for the hospitality sector as 41% of these consumers reported booking outdoor restaurant reservations.

The GDP rose 0.4% in February but analysts expect a spike soon after March saw an improved set of purchasing managers’ surveys for the services, manufacturing and construction sectors.

“The Government’s road map out of lockdown does seem to have lifted both business and consumer confidence. The boost to the economy has likely been reinforced by the additional near-term supportive measures contained in the 3 March Budget,” said Howard Archer, chief economic advisor to the EY ITEM Club.

“With the first quarter likely seeing a markedly slower contraction than expected, and with the economy looking to be on the front foot going into the second quarter, the EY ITEM Club will be substantially raising its current 2021 GDP growth forecast of 5.0% in the upcoming Spring Forecast.”

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