Christmas not what it used to be says Springboard as footfall will be weak
The Christmas shopping season should usually be the busiest period of the year for physical retailers — and especially now, after several years that have been affected by Covid. But this year might not be quite the bonanza stores are hoping for.
Footfall tracking specialist Springboard on Monday issued its forecast for the season and said that the cost of living crisis will cause footfall to drop in the lead up to Christmas, eradicating any gains made so far in 2022 as UK households really feel the pinch from October.
Footfall across all UK retail destinations is forecast to decline month to month — by 4.9% in September (a reliable ‘prediction’ given that it’s already almost the end of the month), 2.5% in October and 0.3% in November, impacted by the tough economic backdrop.
But at least it should then rise from November to December by 6% during the Christmas trading period, with a 4.5% rise in high streets, 5% in retail parks and a massive 10% in shopping centres.
But as mentioned, the earlier falls, followed by what’s seen as a modest rise overall in December will wipe out any progress made during the first eight months of the year.
The resulting gap from the 2019 footfall level will be -18% in December, the widest since February (-20.7%).
The potential drop in footfall between September and November means October and November footfall will be lower than last year (-2.1% in October and -2.7% in November versus 2021). But at least the December figure should be up 4.2% compared to a year earlier.
Springboard’s Insights Director Diane Wehrle said: “We have been publishing footfall data since 2009 and in each year between 2009 and 2019 footfall dipped in September from August because of a drop in consumer demand following the end of the holiday season and the start of the school term. Covid heavily disrupted the two intervening years, but this year the drop in footfall will be more severe than in the same months pre-2019. This is due to consumers' fears over the impact of the rise in energy costs expected in October on their household budgets.
“The second key factor — once again identified through past trends — is that footfall in November dips marginally, mainly due to a drop in high street footfall which tends to occur due to the lure of shopping centres for consumers over the Black Friday trading period.
“In contrast to the forecast for September, the drop in footfall in November this year will be mitigated by shoppers being likely to use the discounts available over the Black Friday period to buy Christmas presents with the hope of outrunning inflation.”
She added that as unemployment possibly rises, this could also dent shopping sentiment and that means those rises set to be seen in December will be “more subdued than in previous years”.
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