UK retail footfall experienced its sharpest ever decline after shops shut their doors in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, according to new figures.
Footfall across retail destinations dived by 44.7% in March due to the Government-mandated lockdown, according to the latest BRC-ShopperTrak footfall monitor.
It revealed that UK footfall declined by 17.7% in the three weeks before the lockdown was enforced on March 23.
However, in the two weeks after lockdown was announced, footfall sank by an average of 83.2% after non-essential shops closed and people were told to stay at home.
High streets saw footfall decline 41.8% in March compared with the previous year, as increased use of convenience stores provided a rare positive.
Shopping centres were harder hit by the lockdown, reporting a 43.6% dive in footfall for the month.
Meanwhile, retail parks saw footfall decrease by 23.5% in March, as they benefitted from having a higher proportion of supermarket stores and their wide-open spaces made social distancing easier.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), said: “Footfall dropped in early March, as many people chose to stay at home and reduce the risk of catching coronavirus.
“This downwards trajectory was accelerated by the Government’s decision to put the UK on lockdown, with footfall dropping by over 80% on the previous year in the weeks following these measures.
“Retail is facing an unprecedented challenge, particularly those geared towards high street sales.”
On Thursday, the BRC revealed that retail sales declined at the worst rate on record in March as total sales slid by 4.3% year-on-year.
Andy Sumpter, retail consultant of ShopperTrak, said: “The way in which we shop has dramatically changed, with consumers shopping by themselves – causing an artificial drop in footfall numbers – and retailers limiting shopper numbers in store.
“In these unprecedented times, I applaud those retailers and store teams who are continuing to serve us.”