Hopes for a stronger footfall were “washed away” last month, according to the latest footfall monitor released by Springboard.
The retail data group said that high street footfall fell by 7.8% in February, highlighting “the fragility of the high street”.
Shopping centre footfall fell by 2.5%, while retail parks saw a 1.1% decline in visitors. Both destinations “still appealed” to many shoppers through their covered environment, ease of access and proximity of parking.
Meanwhile, shopping centre footfall saw an average decline of 1.1% over the first two months of the year against a decline of 2.5% the year prior, which indicates they are “on the cusp of achieving some stability” in footfall.
According to Springboard, Coronavirus “did not have a noticeable impact” on footfall in February, though the month ended “before the warning of its increased severity was made”.
Moving forward, Springboard said it is “likely” that shopper activity will be stemmed as a result of the virus spread, with consumers becoming “more wary” about interacting in public spaces.
Diane Wehrle, Springboard marketing and insights director, said: “If further proof of the fragility of high streets were needed, it was provided in February when the impact of the severe and ongoing rain led to a drop in footfall of -7.8%.
“The resilience of retail parks and shopping centres demonstrates that coronavirus did not have a noticeable impact on footfall in February – if Covid-19 had been a significant factor then it is likely that all three destination types would have been impacted more equally.”
She added: “The month ended before the warning of its increased severity in the UK was made, and so moving forward it is likely that shopper activity will be stemmed as consumers become more wary about interacting in public spaces.
“Whilst it seems that the first quarter of 2020 will yield yet more challenges for bricks and mortar retailers, experience has proven that footfall bounces back quickly once the immediate period of concern has passed.”