While still marking an unprecedented low amid the coronavirus pandemic, retail footfall in May improved slightly to a 73.3% decline compared with 80.1% in April.

Footfall in retail parks fared the best, dropping by 55.1% versus 68.1% in April, due to the swathe of home and DIY stores reopening, as well as the presence of essential retailers, according to the latest data from Springboard.

High streets and shopping centres saw a 78.2% and 80.5% drop in footfall respectively. The research found that local high streets have been more popular with consumers, with footfall declining 41.4% compared with 88.8% in regional town centres.

Footfall during the month was helped by the 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% rise in footfall on average, in comparison to the other two weeks in the month.

The data indicates latent demand from shoppers in lockdown, shown by the queues outside reopened home stores on the weekend leading up to June 1. The days following the reopening saw a decrease by 42.9% versus 56.2% at the beginning of May.

Springboard’s marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle said: “The subject on everyone’s lips is what the likely success will be of the reopening of non-essential retail on June 15. 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. Footfall strengthened noticeably in retail parks over the first few days of the week following this, with the decline averaging 42.9% versus 56.2% over the same days at the beginning of May.

“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%.

“Inevitably, it has been smaller high streets that have been the most resilient as consumers stayed local, with footfall in UK regional cities declining by 88.8% in May, compared with 41.4% across the smallest high streets.

“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.”