Footfall around the UK’s retail sites was up 7% last week, but is still heavily depressed compared to its pre-pandemic levels, new data has shown.

The survey from Springboard found that footfall had grown most rapidly in shopping centres, where it was up 9.8% compared to the week earlier.

Northern Irish footfall is proving slower to recover (Peter Morrison/PA)

However, shopping centres still have the most catching up to do compared to where they were a year ago.

- Advertisement -

Footfall was nearly 64% lower year on year in shopping centres, compared to only 53% when including high streets and retail parks as well.

“As we approach the anniversary of the first lockdown we can see the significant degree to which consumer activity has changed since the same week in 2020; footfall across UK retail destinations rose once again last week – the seventh rise in eight consecutive weeks – whilst in the same week last year footfall not only declined but, as consumers were receiving more and more messages concerning the spread of the virus, the drop was greater than in the previous eight weeks,” said Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard commented.

“With non-essential stores still closed until April 12, the steady increase in visits to high streets and shopping centres delivers further evidence of the degree of pent-up demand amongst consumers to return to stores.”

The data from Springboard shows that Northern Ireland is lagging behind the rest of the country when it comes to recovering to the level it was at this time last year.

Year-on-year Northern Irish footfall was down 61%, while it dropped 1.3% between last week and the week before.

High streets across the UK are experiencing footfall 60% lower than last year’s levels, while week-on-week footfall rose 5.7%, the data shows.

Many shops across the country have faced months-long closures over the past 12 months.

The first lockdown was introduced on March 23 last year.

That was lifted months later, and non-essential retail was once again allowed to reopen with regional variation.

These shops closed again at the beginning of January amid another national lockdown.