The number of non-food shoppers out and about fell in May, but the longer-term trend shows that footfall levels are gradually recovering.
The latest figures from Ipsos Retail Performance's Retail Traffic Index (RTI) show May footfall in non-food stores down 2.8% on April and 3.1% on May 2013, much in line with expectations, following the busy month of April.
However, for the year to date (January through to May) the year-on-year deficit stands at -1.3%, compared to -5.6% for the same period in 2013.
Ipsos says the gradual recovery of store footfall reflects the ongoing stability in the economy. Inflation remains low, labour market conditions are improving and disposable income levels continue to edge up following the increased tax thresholds.
Consumer and business confidence has gone from strength to strength, and is reflected in the improving retail market.
Ipsos director Dr Tim Denison commented: "Some might expect to see footfall trending ahead of last year in all parts of the country by now, but the fact is that consumers have had six years of austerity and the scars it has left behind take time to heal.
"Nonetheless, our figures show that footfall levels are gradually recovering and it is this longer-term trend from which retailers will take most solace."
June footfall is expected to continue its path of recovery, with the launch of the summer sales and the World Cup.