Footfall rose in September, narrowing the gap with pre-pandemic levels, boosted by staycations, day trips and the return to the office.

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Shopper numbers fell 17.4% compared with 2019 figures, up from -18.6% in August, according to the latest data from Springboard.

The numbers were boosted by the August bank holiday weekend which fell within the period, where staycations and day trips were popular across the UK.

Footfall was down 20.3% on 2019 levels on UK high streets, down 23.6% in shopping centres and down 4.6% in retail parks.

Of the three destinations, retail parks saw a decline in footfall levels compared with August, as shoppers returned to more central locations.

Springboard noted an improvement in high street footfall compared with the previous month, as the gap with pre-pandemic levels narrowed by 3.2%.

The footfall expert added that the “long-term impact of online in both reducing in-store browsing and in shifting some spending away from stores, meant that footfall declined by around -1.5% per annum over the past decade”.

Springboard insights director Diane Werhle said: “The improvement in footfall emanated from high streets and shopping centres, and it was only in retail parks where customer activity worsened.

“Whilst much of the decline in footfall from 2019 is accounted for by the loss of office workers and tourists in retail destinations due to the ongoing pandemic, we must also recognise the accelerating impact of online on bricks-and-mortar retail that has been a feature of the past decade.

“As we move into the second month of Q4, we are anticipating a continued and steady increase in the return of employees to office working for at least part of the week together with the beginnings of the return of overseas tourists. The combination of which, will add further support to footfall in retail stores and destinations as we near the Christmas trading period.”