More British shoppers returned to the high street in July, helped by the reopening of pubs and restaurants, but numbers were still much lower than normal for the time of year, an industry survey has revealed.
The monthly report from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) trade body and market research firm ShopperTrak showed footfall was down 42% in annual terms in July, compared with a 63% decline in June.
The reopening of pubs and restaurants in England on 4 July helped to spur only a small number of additional visits to the high street, the BRC said.
Footfall on high streets dropped by 47.5% year-on-year during the month, improving from a 64.5% decline in June.
Retail parks saw a footfall decline of 22.4% year-on-year, improving from a 33.8% slump in the previous month.
Shopping centres emerged as the most negatively affected location, partly due to enclosed spaces making social distancing more of a challenge, with footfall dropping 48.1% year-on-year. However, this was an improvement from a decline of 68.3% in the previous month.
Northern Ireland saw the shallowest shopping centre footfall decline of 23.1%, while Wales (-53.3%) and Scotland (54.4%) saw higher rates of decline than the UK average, the survey showed.
The outlook for stores remains precarious and major retailers have announced a slew of job cuts since non-essential stores reopened to the public in England on 15 June.
Andy Sumpter, retail consultant - EMEA at ShopperTrak, said, “As footfall across parts of Europe has faltered recently, retailers will be hoping that the UK’s slow-and-steady recovery will continue.
"Furthermore, data from the US has shown that states that mandated face coverings first benefited from improved footfall recoveries, so we’ll be looking for the same here too in the coming weeks.”
Boom In Online Shopping
Official data showed retail sales excluding fuel were back to year-ago levels in June, but the recovery has been driven by a boom in online shopping and extra spending at supermarkets as people ate out less.
"It remains too soon to say how well retail will recover in the coming months, but it clearly remains a difficult trading period for many physical retailers," BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.
"With retail footfall recovering slower than in many other European countries, much will depend how fast consumer demand returns."