UPDATE 1-UK shopper numbers fell 3.4% last week as reopening surge waned

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LONDON, April 26 (Reuters) - The number of people out shopping across Britain fell 3.4% in the week to April 24 after surging in the previous week when non-essential stores reopened in England and Wales after three months of lockdown, researcher Springboard said on Monday.

It said shopper numbers, or footfall, fell 0.8% from the previous week on high streets, 3.5% in retail parks and 8.4% in shopping centres.

Footfall had jumped 88% in the week to April 17 versus the previous week.

“Momentum in the recovery of retail slowed slightly last week, with footfall across UK retail destinations dipping slightly from the previous week when non-essential stores reopened,” said Springboard insights director, Diane Wehrle.

She noted that the previous week had also benefited from it being the last week of the school Easter break which meant many parents were on leave and visited stores and retail destinations as a family.

Wehrle said a positive factor was that the gap in footfall last week from the same week in 2019 (pre-pandemic) continued to narrow.

Footfall last week was 19.9% below the 2019 level, noticeably better than the previous peak of down 25% at the end of August 2020.

The pandemic has hammered Britain’s retail sector, leaving gaping holes on the main shopping streets and costing tens of thousands of jobs. (Reporting by James Davey, Editing by Paul Sandle and Susan Fenton)