British shoppers returned to the high street in June as the coronavirus lockdown eased, but overall numbers were much lower than normal for the time of year, an industry survey showed.
The monthly report from the British Retail Consortium trade body and market research firm ShopperTrak showed footfall was down 63% in annual terms in June, although this was 19 percentage points above May's reading.
Non-essential stores were allowed to reopen on 15 June in England, but shopper numbers were still 53% lower than normal in the second half the month, compared with a 77% shortfall in the first two weeks when only essential stores were open.
"(The) UK recovery has been sluggish, especially compared with European standards, but retailers with stores remain hopeful that the reopening of hospitality will provide a welcome boost," said BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson.
Pubs and restaurants reopened last weekend, and on Wednesday finance minister Rishi Sunak said the government would fund discounts on eating out on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August.
Footfall on high streets dropped by 64.5% year on year in this period, while retail parks and shopping centres witnessed a 33.8% and 68.3% year-on-year decline respectively.
Scotland, which reopened in the final week of June, saw the steepest decline in footfall of 78.5%.
Decline in footfall was the least in Northern Ireland (56.9%.), which was also among the first the to reopen on 12 June, the survey showed.
'Time Of Purposeful Shopping'
Andy Sumpter, retail consultant – EMEA of ShopperTrak, added, “In a time of purposeful shopping, footfall has a totally new value, but perhaps the biggest challenge currently is dealing with every customer as quickly and efficiently as possible.
"The most effective retailers are using footfall data to allow customers to know the best time to visit to avoid queues. As customers begin to get used to new shopping practices, retailers will be working hard to ensure they have the right number of staff available at the right times.”