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Visits to shopping centres and high streets dip below pre-pandemic levels

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Visits to high streets and shopping centres dipped to below pre-pandemic levels last month, with the north of England – plus Scotland and Northern Ireland – trailing behind the south in terms of the overall recovery from Covid-fuelled gloom.Footfall decreased by 14% in July compared with 2019, reversing gains made in April, as retailers struggled to entice shoppers amid a heatwave in the third week of the month and surging inflation.Shopping centres were the worst-hit, down 18.6% compared with July 2019, while visits to high streets fell by 17% and retail parks were down 3.5%.The data from Springboard showed the UK-wide footfall for July had increased by 15.6% compared with last year, 2021.

But the rate of recovery indicates an increasing north-south divide.Between January and July, footfall increased month on month by an average of 1.8% in London compared with just 0.4% in the north and Yorkshire.The figures indicate that rising inflation and the cost of living crisis is being more acutely felt outside the capital, with July footfall up by 27.4% on 2021 in London compared with 8.9% in the north and Yorkshire, 7.3% in Northern Ireland and 9.2% in Scotland.Diane Wehrle of Springboard said: “The north-south divide in footfall recovery is not a recent trend and stretches back to July 2021.

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