Retail footfall in the UK fell by 68.7% in March from two years prior, according to data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Sensormatic IQ.
With the country still in lockdown, the data show the decline in the number of shoppers visiting UK High Streets compared to March 2019, retail parks and shopping centres.
But the figure is a slight improvement of 4.9% from February and is above the three-month average decrease of 72.3%.
Wales recorded the greatest footfall in the UK with -71.2%, while Scotland reported -66.3% and Northern Ireland -56.4%.
The data come as the UK prepares to reopen all non-essential retail from 12 April.
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BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “Non-food retail stores will have lost £30bn in foregone sales over the three lockdowns, so it is essential they are able to trade effectively from 12 April and remain open.
“Savings have been building up over lockdown, and the economic recovery relies on retailers being able to unlock the pent-up demand in the economy.
“The government should do all it can to support consumer confidence both ahead of and during reopening.”
Sensormatic EMEA retail consultant Andy Sumpter said: “While non-essential stores remained closed, we saw an incremental improvement in March footfall against February’s shopper counts, fuelled by growing consumer confidence, the promise of greater freedom to come and the relaxation of the ‘Stay at Home’ guidance.”
“But the real test comes as retail reopens later this month and whether that reopening is, as hoped, irreversible. After a year of yoyoing in and out of lockdown, retailers will be hoping for stability and, once again, counting on the continued support of shoppers if any sort of bounce back is to be sustained.”
In January, the BRC released data showing that the total year-on-year (YoY) footfall for retail last year dropped by 43.4%.