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UK footfall dips again on heavy rain and Black Friday delay says Springboard

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today Dec 9, 2019
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While some information coming out of various surveys around UK retail can at times seem to be contradictory, one thing does seem very clear from all of them — footfall to physical stores is declining. And the latest report from Springboard for November showed that the decline has accelerated.


Rain kept UK shoppers out of stores again last month - Image Adrianna Calvo



Footfall was down 3.4% last month, worse than the 3.2% drop of a year ago — and if you add those two figures together, that’s a fairly hefty drop in visitor traffic to non-food stores since as recently as 2017.

That said, the Black Friday calendar shift (it was November 29 this year compared to November 23 in 2018) would have had an impact. Springboard said November didn’t benefit from the success of Black Friday due to it largely occurring outside of the monthly trading period, which covers only the first four weeks of November.

It also said that heavy rain impacted footfall in the last two weeks of the month. In fact, footfall declined by an average of 4.4% in that last fortnight compared to just 2.4% over the first two weeks.

So what was the result of all this on certain destination types? High Street footfall declined by 4.3%, following on from the decrease of 3.8% in November last year. And shopping centre footfall dropped 3%, following November 2018’s decline of 3.8%.

But even retail parks, which tend to the the most buoyant of the destination types, fell 1.8% this time on top of a 1.4% drop a year earlier.

Springboard’s insights director Diane Wehrle said that while the rain was a factor in deterring many shoppers from making trips to retail destinations, “the poor footfall in the second half of the month will have been exacerbated by the proximity of Black Friday discounts. Alerts arriving on a regular basis into consumers’ inboxes in the run up to Black Friday enabled consumers to watch the retail market easily and identify the depth and spread of discounts being offered. If they weren’t already planning on doing so, this will have led to many pulling back on trips to destinations causing a spending freeze over the last two weeks of the month in anticipation of big discounts on current stock”.

The fact that the Black Friday weekend also started on payday “heightened the chances of a spending spree which took place after the month had ended,” she added. “This pent-up demand is clearly evident from the fact that footfall in the last week of the month in shopping centres dropped by 5.2%, more than in high streets and retail parks. Having the greatest concentration of retailers heavily promoting discounts, it was not surprising that it was in shopping centres where footfall increased most over Black Friday.”

We’ve already seen that Black Friday itself (both the day and weekend) defined expectations of a footfall drop to turn in a healthy rise. So it will certainly be interesting to see how December as a whole fares.

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