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Retail footfall takes major hit in sunniest May since 1957
08 June 2020

Activity on some of Britain’s biggest high streets remained around incredible lows in May, with retail footfall recovering only slightly from the month before. However as non-essential retail prepares to re-open there is a suggestion of huge pent-up demand among shoppers and a potential high street revival.

Footfall dropped by 73.3% in May, leaving it hovering just above April’s unprecedented 80% drop, according to new figures from Springboard.

The drop came despite last month being the sunniest May since 1957, which Springboard said boosted turnout on high streets and in retail parks.

However, despite depressing figures, Springboard said that shoppers have huge amounts of pent-up demand.

Last Monday queues snaked across Ikea car parks as the furniture giant threw open its doors for the first time after lockdown.

The major supermarkets in retail parks helped them fare much better than the UK’s high streets, losing only 68% of their footfall, compared with 78% on high streets, and 81% in shopping centres.

Meanwhile, the smaller high streets also got off lighter, as people started to shop more locally. Footfall on small high streets dropped 41%, against 89% in regional cities.

Springboard marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle said: “The second month of lockdown meant that retail footfall in May continued to remain at an unprecedented low, declining by 73.3% year-on-year.

“This was a marginal improvement on the drop of 80.1% in April, reflecting the immediate response of consumers to the easing of Government restrictions as garden centres and home stores were given the green light to reopen.”

She added: “The fact that it was the sunniest May since 1957 certainly helped, combined with the two bank holidays which bookended the month.”

“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,” Ms Wehrle said.

“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.”

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