Shopper numbers across all British retail destinations fell by 6.3% last week compared to the previous week, as although children went back to school after the summer holidays, workers did not return to offices, market researcher Springboard said on Monday.
It said that while it was normal to see a drop off in week-on-week footfall after schools reopen, this year's fall was larger than usual.
Springboard said the outcome, the first week-on-week decline since April, meant the annual decline worsened to down 27.5% from down 25% the week before.
Impact of Pandemic
Britain's retailers, already struggling with high rents and business taxes, tight margins and online competition, have been hammered by the coronavirus pandemic. Hundreds of store closures and thousands of job losses have already been announced.
Springboard said UK high streets and retail parks saw footfall declines of 5.4% and 5.2% respectively in the week to 12 September, whilst footfall dropped 9% in shopping centres.
Springboard director Diane Wehrle said the boost to shopper numbers from the back to school period ended sharply last week.
'Magnitude Of The Drop'
"Whilst this is a pattern of consumer activity that Springboard has come to expect - we have seen this drop occur in all but one year since we started publishing our footfall indices in 2009 - the magnitude of the drop has been larger than in any previous year.
"This signifies the continued impact of many Brits continuing to work from home as offices across the UK remain closed," she said.
Official data published earlier this month showed people gradually returning to their workplaces in late August, something Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to speed up in September to help the economy recover from its historic coronavirus slump.