Jan 13, 2020
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Footfall down yet again last month as retail devastation continued

Jan 13, 2020

UK footfall fell 2.5% in December, according to tracking specialist Springboard, the latest in a string of falls that has seen every year but one in the past decade enduring a December drop.

UK stores failed to boost footfall last month

And the cause? Well, the overall move of consumers online and the weak economy would have had an impact. But for 2019, another unique reason was the calendar shift of Black Friday. The shopping event happened later in November this time and came after payday, which meant more consumers moved their shopping from December into the previous month.

Springboard said the fact that Christmas trading shifted forwards led to “a noticeable decline in footfall over the two weeks leading up to Christmas”.

And it added that the result for December “reflects the caution and spending restraint of consumers which typifies low consumer confidence that has been ongoing for the last three years”.

Looking at the different destination types, high street footfall declined by 3.5%, following on from the drop of 2.1% in November 2018. Retail parks are usually the most buoyant destinations and they were this time too, falling only 0.5% after a heftier 2.1% decrease in the previous year. And the decline at shopping centres eased this time to 2.1%, better than the 3.9% of the previous year. But even though the decline had narrowed, adding the figures together for the two years still represents a hefty fall compared to as recently as 2017.

Springboard wasn’t surprised by the fact that footfall was down — given the number years in which it has fallen, it would have been more of a surprise if it wasn’t. But it said that “the challenge for destinations and stores was not only that this was the eighth consecutive year that footfall has decreased in this key trading month, but that it was also at the upper end of the scale in terms of the magnitude of decline”.

While the after effects of Black Friday continued into early December and drove footfall higher by a tiny margin in the month’s first two weeks, those same after effects suppressed shopper interest later on. Footfall dropped 6.1% in weeks three and four, which was almost three times the size of the equivalent drop in 2018.

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