// Retail footfall improved during May, new research finds
// Retail parks saw the biggest improvement thanks to the presence of home & DIY stores
New research has found that retail footfall in May improved slightly to a 73.3 per cent decline compared with 80.1 per cent in April, despite the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
Retail parks saw the biggest improvement, with footfall dropping by 55.1 per cent versus 68.1 per cent in April, due to home and DIY stores reopening, as well as the presence of essential retailers such as grocers, according to the latest data from Springboard.
High streets and shopping centres saw a 78.2 per cent and 80.5 per cent drop in footfall respectively.
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Meanwhile, footfall in local high streets declined by 41.4 per cent compared with 88.8 per cent in regional town centres.
Footfall during the month was driven by the warm weather, with it being the sunniest May since 1957, as well as the two bank holidays.
The two weeks leading up to each bank holiday saw a 12 per cent rise in footfall on average, in comparison to the other two weeks in the month.
“The subject on everyone’s lips is what the likely success will be of the reopening of non-essential retail on June 15,” Springboard marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle said.
“The limited evidence so far has suggested that, despite the growth in online shopping over the past two months, there is a huge amount of pent-up demand among consumers for bricks-and-mortar shopping.
“The first indication of this were the monumental queues that built up at major home stores in the weekend before the official easing of lockdown restrictions in England on June 1.
“While retail parks are already seeing some recovery in footfall, this is certainly not the case for high streets and shopping centres, where the decline in footfall over the few days since June 1 still remains at more than 70 per cent.
“Inevitably, it has been smaller high streets that have been the most resilient as consumers stayed local.
“The key trend to be watched over the period of retail reopening in June, and over subsequent months, will be whether this signals the beginning of a new era for local high streets.
“Certainly, what is likely is that those destinations and retailers that are best able to manage customer numbers to ensure social distancing will be the most in demand by consumers as safety during shopping is paramount.”