Retail footfall has taken a backwards step according to new data which shows that traffic in UK shops took a nosedive during the month of September.

Despite a strong start to September, various factors have seen footfall dip to the worst level in more than two months.

According to BRC-Sensormatic IQ data, total UK footfall decreased by 16.8% in September (Yo2Y), with a 1.2 percentage point increase from August. This is above the three-month average decline of 20.5%.

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Helen Dickinson, chief executive of British Retail Consortium, said: “While footfall at the start of September was strong, it slowed over the course of the month as increasing rainfall and ongoing fuel and supply issues convinced some consumers to stay home.

“The final week of September saw the worst total footfall levels since the last week of July this year, shortly after the last Covid restrictions were lifted, demonstrating the fragility of consumer confidence and how the economic recovery from Covid can be so easily undermined.

“Retail parks continue to perform better than other shopping destinations, with access to larger stores, parking, and petrol stations.

“As we approach Christmas, it is imperative Government takes further action to resolve the driver shortage which is increasing costs and creating delays throughout the supply chain.

“Retailers are trying to recruit and train thousands of new British drivers, but 5,000 visas are not enough to fill the gap in the short term.

“The Government should extend the visa scheme to help prevent customers facing significant disruption this Christmas.”

Meanwhile, Andy Sumpter, retail consultant EMEA for Sensormatic Solutions, commented: “Looking ahead, retailers will be counting on the ‘golden quarter’ to capitalise on Christmas trade as the high street’s recovery continues – and with our research showing 79% of consumers will start festive shopping between now and the start of December, October and November will be critical months to encourage shoppers back into store.”