UK retail footfall strengthened for the third consecutive month in August, dropping only -30.8 per cent from 2019 according to retail analytics firm Springboard, an improvement on the previous month.
The rate of improvement was only around half that in June and July 2020, suggesting that the climb back to pre-Covid-19 footfall levels is going to be a steep one.
Smaller high streets continued to benefit from home working and local shopping, with footfall in market towns -26.6 per cent down on last year in August versus -38.3 per cent across all UK high streets.
Coastal towns also performed strongly with footfall down -24.4 per cent from August 2019, as the shifting quarantine regulations led to a summer of staycations.
The UK vacancy rate rose in July 2020 to 10.8 per cent from 9.8 per cent in January 2020 which means it is now at the highest level since January 2014, reflecting recent widespread store closures.
Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard commented: “It is clear that footfall has only been marginally boosted by the government support initiatives, and the ONS have reported that non-food spending remains lower than in February 2020. With the news this month of the UK officially going into recession and the impending end to the furlough scheme in two months which is likely to see unemployment levels rise, it appears that the retail sector is standing at the edge of a trading precipice.”