Footfall drops again in lead-up to Christmas

It may be the busiest time of year for retailers, but new footfall figures show that the battle to tempt shoppers out of their homes has intensified even further this year.

According to insights firm Springboard, the number of Christmas shoppers heading for the high street, shopping centres and retail parks last week fell 0.1 per cent on the same period last year.

While that loss may sound like a small decline, it comes on the back of a 7.6 per cent year-on-year decline for retailers in 2017, when transport disruption caused by snow and ice kept people out of shops.

Those results follow a 2.5 per cent decline in 2016.

Springboard cited Storm Deidre as impacting shopper trips last Saturday, but added that it expected there to be an average footfall decline of 3.5 per cent this weekend.

That consists of a 3.2 per cent fall in the high street, a 2.8 per cent drop in retail parks and a 4.8 per cent decline in shopping centre visits.

Springboard also forecast Friday, December 20 as the peak shopping day of the week as opposed to the next day on Saturday, as is being widely predicted.

This is because of that way Christmas Day falls in the first part of the week, and consumers generally treat the preceding weekend as part of the festive break and use it for family and visiting friends.

Despite Springboard’s predictions, retailers are holding out hope for a bumper weekend of last-minute Christmas sales.

“This year, ‘super weekend’ comes immediately before Christmas Eve, representing three full days for shoppers to pick up those last-minute presents or indulge in some self-gifting,” Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield chief marketing officer Myf Ryan said.

“We predict December 22, the last Saturday before Christmas, will be our biggest shopping day of the whole year.

A British Retail Consortium spokesperson said: “Footfall has been declining in the UK as consumer behaviour moves increasingly online to both research products and make purchases.

“Nonetheless, with many shoppers not wanting to risk last-minute home deliveries, we can expect the shops to be very busy in the last week before Christmas as people go out to buy both food and presents.”

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