Footfall slipped again in May despite showing signs of recovery following steep declines in shopper numbers in March and April.
Traffic to high streets, shopping centres and retail parks dropped 0.4% year on year during the four weeks to May 26, but that marked an improvement from the 6% and 3.3% slumps suffered in the previous two months.
According to data from the BRC and Springboard, high streets were the strongest-performing locations during May, registering a 0.6% increase in shopper numbers, as the warm weather drove consumers outside.
Retail parks also benefited from that trend, posting a 0.5% uptick.
But shopping centres suffered a “significant” decline year on year, as footfall tumbled 2.9%.
Springboard marketing and insights director Diana Wehrle warned it was “premature” to regard the improvement in shopper numbers during May as “any form of bounce back”.
She said the uptick was “likely to be a consequence of shopping trips being deferred from April – when the weather continued to be cold and wet” – and heightened consumer demand around the two bank holiday weekends.
However, Wehrle pointed out that footfall declined in the two bank holiday weeks, “reflecting a long-term trend identified by Springboard of the lessening in importance of public holidays for retail”.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson added: “Consumer behaviour is changing and retailers are continuing to adapt their stores to their customers’ requirements by investing in the integration of their online and bricks-and-mortar businesses, increasingly allowing customers to pick up in stores items purchased online.
“Policy-makers can help to ease the pressure on both retailers and high streets by addressing the burden of business rates and adapting planning laws to support the successful reinvention of empty retail space.”