UK footfall gap widens against 2019 in November, malls suffering
Despite a much-needed boost from Black Friday, November’s retail footfall numbers across the UK widened to an 11.1% deficit from -9.8% in October “as consumers continue to hold out for cheaper discounts at the end of December amidst the cost-of-living crisis”, Springboard said Thursday.
The uplift in footfall compared to 2021 also dipped for the fourth consecutive month in October to just +4.3%, below a third of the uplift (+15.6%) seen in the happier days of July.
Month-on-month, November high street footfall was down 12.4% compared to October, dipping 17.3% in shopping centres and down a more modest 3% in retail parks.
On the huge shopping centres decline, Springboard had quite a bit to say: “It is clear that footfall in many smaller malls has been adversely impacted by store closures, some of which will have commenced pre-Covid as retailers began rationalising their store networks, which was then heightened during the Covid period when stores closed and did not reopen when all restrictions were lifted.
“This is further exacerbated by the response of some landlords to the lacklustre performance of smaller centres, which has led to them cutting back on investment.”
And on high streets, it added: “In contrast, in the face of hybrid working which has suppressed the recovery of footfall, many high streets have invested heavily in marketing and transforming themselves seasonally”.
Back to the numbers. Compared to 2021, footfall in high streets was 5.6% higher, it was 5% higher in shopping centres and 0.7% up in retail parks.
Footfall rose 3.2% in the last week of the month from the week before, due to a healthy increase of 11.7% on Black Friday. In the previous week, footfall rose by just 1.6% and by 1.3% in the week before that, with a significant drop of 7.5% in the first week of the month.
Springboard predicts that post-Black Friday that “we are likely to see a lull in footfall over the forthcoming weeks, which is a pattern of activity recorded by Springboard post Black Friday in pre-Covid years”.
Meanwhile, footfall in the week prior to Christmas (from Sunday 11 December) “will also be muted, as shoppers will hold out for the last week beginning Sunday 18 December to shop in the hope of benefitting from last minute discounts”, it added.
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