Retail footfall in May was up 0.3% YOY, according to the latest BRC-Springboard Footfall and Vancancies Monitor. This was better than the 2.4% decline seen in April, and significantly above the three month average of -1.7%.

High street footfall increased 1.2%, following a 4.7% decline in April. This is the best performance on the high street since July 2013, excluding Easter distortions.

Footfall in retail park locations increased 1.2% YOY, up from the 1.1% rise in April. While this is a marginal uplift from the previous month, the growth rate has been on a downward trajectory since January.

Shopping Centre footfall fell 2.1%, lower than the 0.7% in April. This is the second time this year that footfall in shopping centres has underperformed the high street.

Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive, British Retail Consortium, says: "With total footfall figures up and high streets seeing a reversal in fortunes, today’s figures offer some respite from the relentless downward trend we’ve seen building in recent months.

“However, we know from our recent data that it’s online, rather than stores, that has driven May's sales upturn. Footfall up and store sales down gives credence to the trend of an increasing use of the high street for leisure activities and the researching of purchases made online either later or on the move through mobile devices. 

“Retailers are working hard to respond to this fundamental structural change. They’re investing to ensure they’re meeting the needs of consumers who no longer think in channels and expect their shopping experience to be tailored to their specific needs and wants, whether in store or online. This investment, combined with the increasing cost of physical store space, means that retailers still find themselves in a relentless battle for every customer and every sale.”

Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director, Springboard, adds: “May’s modest increase in UK footfall of 0.3%, whilst in sharp contrast to the February to April footfall decline of 2.1%, does not necessarily mark the start of a positive trend just yet.

“This is only the 14th time over the last six years that footfall has risen, and over this period footfall increased in two consecutive months only twice. We would need to see at least a three-month increase in footfall to indicate the upward trend spells anything more than a break in the clouds. With the uncertainty created by the EU referendum affecting consumer confidence, it will be challenging for this three month trend to establish just now.”