Footfall across the UK’s retail locations plunged by 81.6% in May owing to the Covid-19 lockdown – a shallower decline than the previous month.
The number of shopping centre visitors dropped by 84.9% during the four weeks to 30 May, compared with the previous year, according to the latest BRC-Shoppertrak footfall monitor.
On high streets, footfall declined by 77.8% year-on-year. This was aided by local convenience stores, which have been growing in popularity during lockdown.
Retail parks posted a 55% footfall decrease. These have been more resilient as they provide wider open spaces in comparison to other locations, as well as a higher proportion of supermarkets.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, noted the decline was less severe than it was in April as more retailers, including garden centres and homeware shops, were allowed to reopen.
She added that other countries that have lifted their lockdowns have seen footfall rise by around 15-25 percentage points in initial weeks, and that many retailers will hope for a similar rise when shops in England begin to reopen this week.
“Retailers have been under immense pressure for the past three months but the reopening of non-essential shops from today is unlikely to deliver immediate relief,” she said.
“A mix of low consumer confidence and limits on the number of people able to enter stores mean that many shops will continue to suffer lower footfall – and lower sales – for some time to come.”
Andy Sumpter, retail consultant for EMEA markets at ShopperTrak, said: “Compared to other European countries – France, Germany, Italy and Spain – the UK will be the last to start its recovery process, having already had the longest disruption.
“All eyes are on the rest of retail now as doors start to open. In the short term we expect consumers will visit less, but buy more each visit, making each shopper all the more precious. Footfall has a totally new value.”