Black Friday footfall down for first time in history

Black Friday footfall Springboard
High street footfall was down for the first time in Black Friday history
// Footfall across UK high streets declined on Black Friday by 0.5 per cent
// Shopping centres and retail parks showed an increase in footfall
// Previous figures typically show a rise in high street traffic of around 17.3 per cent

Black Friday footfall on the British high street has dropped for the first time in history, as shoppers favour shopping centres and retail parks.

According to retail experts Springboard, footfall across UK high streets declined on Black Friday itself by 0.5 per cent, the first drop since the shopping event started in the UK.

The latest insight reveals that other retail destinations saw more success, with footfall strengthening significantly against the week before in shopping centres by 17.9 per cent and in retail parks, by 11.4 per cent .

The week leading up to Black Friday told a similar story, with high street traffic down by 1.5 per cent week-on-week, while shopping centre and retail park footfall increased by 6.5 per cent and 4.9 per cent respectively.

Previous years’ figures typically show a rise in high street traffic of around 17.3 per cent on Black Friday, compared to the previous week.

In 2019, that figure was 25 per cent and even during lockdown last year the high street footfall on Black Friday was 11.7 per cent higher than the week before.

The impact of home working and the lack of tourism is clear, says Springboard.

Pre-Covid figures from 2019 show that footfall in Central London and regional cities outside the capital rose on Black Friday from the week before by 23.7 per cent and 29.6 per cent and by 32.3 per cent in historic towns, while this year the rises were just 2.3 per cent in Central London, 0.5 per cent in regional cities and by 1.2 per cent in historic towns.

READ MORE: Black Friday sales to boost UK retail footfall as shoppers search for bargain deals

“The overall results for the week leading up to and including Black Friday weekend were dampened by a far weaker footfall performance in high streets than anticipated, and a drop in high street footfall on Black Friday itself for the first time in history,” said Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard.

“Three factors sit behind this; firstly, the large proportion of office employees continuing to work from home meant that rather than visiting high street stores during the working day on Black Friday, for those shoppers who wanted to shop in store on Black Friday it was easier to head out to shopping centres and retail parks.

“Secondly, a reduction in overseas tourists in the UK has resulted in far fewer leisure shoppers who on Black Friday would typically head to Central London, large city centres around the UK and towns attractive to tourists such as historic and coastal towns.

“The third factor was the adverse weather on Saturday, which acted as a severe deterrent to shoppers in making trips to towns and cities. However, despite these challenges, the more substantial retail offer in larger towns and cities appealed to high street shoppers more than smaller towns.”

Overall footfall now stands at 17 per cent lower than the 2019 level – a widening of the gap from the week before when it was down by 12.4 per cent from 2019.

However, this is still more than twice the footfall seen in 2020, with an increase of 102.1 per cent.

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