Footfall over the New Year’s weekend fell by 13 per cent on the high street and a whopping 50 per cent in shopping centres due to a combination of poor weather, an early December spending spree and bank holiday trading hours deterring shoppers.
According to retail benchmarking firm Springboard, footfall in the retail sector overall – the high street, shopping centres and out-of-town retail parks – slumped by 23.8 per cent.
“The ease and comfort of online shopping proved too enticing for shoppers keen to snap up further discounts in the sales rather than bracing the cold outdoors,” Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle said.
She hinted that 2017 has more challenges in store for many retailers.
“Retailers traditionally see the first trading weekend of the New Year as a sign of things to come, and if this still rings true the industry is set for a rocky 2017,” she said.
However, leading City and retail expert Nick Bubb said the timing of the weekend meant these New Year’s footfall figures needed to be “taken with a pinch of salt”.
“Given the increasing traffic congestion on the roads, there is every reason to expect that more people will opt for the convenience of online shopping in 2017 and that will further undermine high street footfall, at a time when consumers are going to be increasingly careful about how they spend their money, as real incomes come under pressure,” Bubb told City AM.