Analysts fear that if the weather returns to freezing conditions this Easter weekend, retail footfall across the UK could drop by as much as 15 per cent year-on-year.
While early forecasts did suggest that the upcoming Easter weekend would meet expectations as the most anticipated weekend for retail after Christmas – with an increase of 2.4 per cent in footfall compared to the same trading period last year – if snow and ice were to return, footfall may take a sudden turn and retailers could suffer, as evidence from the previous two “beasts from the east” has shown.
- Beast from the East warms online retail with 13.1% growth
- Retail sales see unexpected boost in February
- Good news for high street as inflation slows in February
- Snowy conditions exacerbate dip in February footfall
- Consumer confidence dips in February
- Non-essential retail sales plummets as inflation eats away at budgets
The forecast comes following Springboard’s announcement that the 0.5 per cent decrease in UK retail footfall in February was less than a third of that recorded in January and lower that the 12 month average of -0.7 per cent, providing some good news in the face of the trading challenges for retailers reported recently.
Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle the first “beast from the east” on the week beginning February 25 led to a 16.6 per cent decline in footfall all retail destinations.
She added that the worst hit day, March 1, saw footfall drop by as much as 36 per cent, while the three period up to Saturday, March 3 saw average footfall drop by 28 per cent.
“Unfortunately, this does not mean that online spending will rise, as experience from the first ‘beast’ demonstrated that traffic delays as a consequence of snow and ice led to online transactions declining by 0.7 per cent,” Wehrle said.
“Indeed, Ocado has just revealed that it led to a loss of one per cent in sales due to having to cancel online orders.”
However, if there were to be normal weather conditions, then footfall is anticipated to increase due to a range of factors.
“The timing of national payday before Easter weekend in 2018 means that households are likely to have some discretionary spending budget available that will not yet have been spent or allocated,” Wehrle said.
“Recent adverse weather may have resulted in consumers deferring or cancelling shopping trips, while also delaying household spending on garden products and home improvements.
“If the weather remains mild this Easter weekend, consumers may reinstate cancelled trips for the Easter weekend and are likely to visit garden centres and furniture outlets to refresh homes and gardens, and to fashion stores to browse spring ranges.”
She added: “The now established demand for eating out and hospitality will mean that families are likely to combine shopping trips with visits to coffee shops, restaurants and even leisure facilities this Easter weekend.
“A number of hospitality operators are facing trading challenges and increased competition, however, the combination of these two factors is driving discounting and offers, making it even more economic for consumers to eat out.”