Retail footfall continued to strengthen in September, with analysts estimating that the Covid pandemic had caused around a 15 per cent drop in footfall.
In September, footfall was down 17.4 per cent on 2019 levels, compared to being down 18.6 per cent in August, according to fresh data from Springboard.
Footfall declined from 2019 by -20.3 per cent in high streets, -23.6 per cent in shopping centres and -4.6 per cent in retail parks.
The gap from 2019 in high streets narrowed to -20.3 per cent in September from -23.5 per cent in August.
Over the two weeks that covered the bank holiday weekend, high street footfall improved to -19.1 per cent below 2019 versus -26.3 per cent in the week before.
Footfall decline by around 1.5 per cent per annum over the past decade, thanks to a long term impact of online in both reducing in-store browsing and in shifting some spending away from brick and mortar stores.
Springboard said that it was likely retail footfall would have declined by three per cent from 2019, even without the pandemic considered. It would have dropped by around four per cent in high streets.
Analysts said that the true impact of Covid on footfall was around -14 per cent to 16 per cent.
A mix of office workers making a return to city centres and the early signs of a revival of international tourism would boost footfall in retail outlets in the coming months, Springboard said.
Last month’s data goes against the long-term footfall trend for September, which traditionally is a month in which footfall levels off or declines from the year before.
Ross Bailey, CEO of Appear Here and founder of a campaign to save high streets, has said physical retail was not dead but it was big chains falling out of favour.“Consumers have become bored with their offering, as we’ve seen through closures of stores such as Debenhams and Topshop, and are seeking a personal and more meaningful shopping experience,” he said.