November footfall rises but experts warn it’s “unlikely to signal” turnaround

consumer spending

Footfall throughout November peaked as shoppers took to the high street to catch Black Friday sales, although it’s “unlikely to signal a reversal” in a longer-term downtrend.

According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard’s Footfall and Vacancies Monitor in the four weeks to November 20, footfall jumped 0.2 per cent year-on-year, above the one per cent decline seen last November and three month rolling average.

Greater London saw footfall decline 0.1 per cent, marking its fifth month of consecutive decline.

This is contrasted with the 1.6 per cent growth seen in the South East and in the North.

The West Midlands and East Midlands also performed well, seeing a 1.1 per cent and 0.9 per cent growth respectively.

The East has continued to outperform other regions, seeing its 12th consecutive month of growth, while the East Midlands broke an eight-month decline seeing 1.7 per cent growth in November.

“Though very welcome after four consecutive months of decline, the month’s growth in footfall is unlikely to signal a reversal of the longer-term trend,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.

“As price increases for food continue to eat into household finances, consumer spending power for discretionary non-food items will inevitably weaken.

“So a cautious consumer may sap some of the sparkle from this year’s Christmas trading, which means retailers are going to have to compete even harder for customer spend, which is always good news for consumers.

Springboard’s marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle added: “What is also clear is that many trips were leisure rather than spending driven, as footfall across all destinations rose post 5pm by 1.7 per cent but dropped by 0.3 per cent during retail trading hours.

“This is substantiated by the fact that whilst sales on a like for like basis in November rose, this was virtually all driven by food, whilst non-food sales dropped due to the impact of inflation on discretionary spending.”

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