The number of shoppers flocking to UK high streets and shopping centres as they scrambled to secure Boxing Day bargains fell at a rate “greater than expected” this year.
According to Springboard footfall fell by 4.5 per cent to 5pm compared to last year, marking the fifth drop in shopper numbers in the last six years.
High streets were hit hardest, with footfall dropping 5.8 per cent year-on-year. Shopping centres also saw a four per cent drop, while out of town locations saw footfall dip two per cent.
“The drop in footfall… reinforces the lessening of the importance of Boxing Day as a key trading day in the retail calendar,” Springboard’s insights director Diane Wehrle said.
“We did anticipate a drop in footfall on Boxing Day this year, but the scale of the drop is greater than expected.
“Given that last year footfall declined by 1.4% up to 5pm, but dropped by 2.3% over the 24 hour period as a whole, we are now expecting footfall to decline by more than 4% compared with last year over the day as a whole.
The fall has been attributed to an increasing reliance on online sales, with many retailer opting to start theirs on Christmas eve. This reportedly pushed online sales on Christmas day up five per cent, with Boxing Day sales expected to rise 6.2 per cent.
Despite the larger than expected decline, major shopping outlets still welcomes millions of shoppers this year.
Westfield shopping centres saw 350,000 people come through its doors during Boxing Day, marking its busiest day of the year and bringing the total number of visitors across the Christmas period to 14 million.
The numbers were so great that doors were closed and police were called to what some described as a riot unfolded at the Westfield Stratford.
A police spokesperson said: “Police were called at 2.34pm to reports of disorder at Westfield Shopping Centre in Stratford, Newham.
“Officers attended and additional high-visibility patrols were deployed, and groups of people causing disorder were dispersed. Officers remain on scene.
Other major retail destinations like Selfridges also enjoyed booming sales, taking in around £4 million in the first three hours of trading, welcoming 120,000 shoppers.