Dec 21, 2017
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UK store visits down nearly 10% this month - report

Dec 21, 2017

As Britain dived head first into the Christmas shopping season during December, footfall to stores actually fell sharply with an almost-10% drop in the first three weeks of December.

Stores have been quieter than expected this Christmas season

That’s according to the Ipsos Retail Performance Retail Traffic Index (RTI), which showed a worrying 9.9% drop in visitors to physical stores in recent weeks.

That was partly caused by heavy snow on December 10, which IRP said led to a 2.1% drop compared to the previous week.

But what else contributed to the shortfall? Well, clearly consumers are migrating online for their Christmas purchases with recent surveys showing that crowded stores are a major turn-off for shoppers. 

But Black Friday also made a major impact and IRP said that, as in 2016, its discounting frenzy “dragged a sizeable proportion of December’s shopping into November.”

The data, which looks at the number of individual shoppers entering over 4,000 non-food retail stores across the UK, showed that some areas saw worse declines than others. In fact, as the snow proved heavier in the West Midlands and Eastern England, December 10 footfall was down 57% and 39% respectively in those regions.

But Black Friday was the biggest issue with IRP saying that the roughly two weeks of discounts in November “throttled” demand during the current month.

“While Black Friday wasn’t spectacular for retailers, it has had a significant knock-on effect to shopping activity in December,” said Dr Tim Denison, IRP director of retail intelligence. “Widespread promotional activity and deep discounting hasn’t succeeded in pulling the usual numbers of shoppers into stores. We had anticipated a slow start, but we did expect the high street to be busier than it has been.”

Based on the footfall levels over the first three weeks of the month, IRP has revised its forecast for the month down from a drop of 2.1% to a much bigger fall of 6.7% compared to December 2016.

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