Springboard revises Christmas forecast downwards due to "catastrophic" lockdown
On Friday, footfall tracker Springboard issued an embargoed release containing its Xmas footfall forecast. But on Sunday, it had to radically downgrade that forecast after Saturday's news of a new English lockdown.
The bad news is that it now expects retail footfall to drop by as much as 62% in the six weeks from November 22 up to December 26.
The forecast is a drastic change from the original -32.7% prediction, in light of the announcement of a second national lockdown from November 5, which sees non-essential retail close until December 2.
Between those dates, footfall across England is set to average -78.8% with high streets hit hardest and seeing a decline of -87.3%.
Springboard also warned that if the national lockdown is extended throughout December, footfall could drop by more than 80%. This was the magnitude of decline at the height of the pandemic in April.
Traditionally, Springboard data from 2017-2019 highlights that retailers begin to experience an uplift in footfall from Christmas shopping in the first week of November, rising on average by 3% per week, so the lockdown measures are “catastrophic” for the retail industry.
However it also recognises that the greatest uplift in footfall is usually seen in December with an average rise of 11.4% in week 51 of the year, the last week of trading before Christmas, therefore it’s essential for non-essential retailers to be reopened and trading by this date.
Whether they will be open or not is still an unanswerable question as the government has raised the prospect that the lockdown could be extended beyond December 2 if the coronavirus pandemic isn't under control by then.
Prior to the lockdown announcement, a survey of 1,000 shoppers nationally identified that 61.2% of consumers intended to spend more online this season while only 20.4% looked to spend more in bricks and mortar stores. The online shift is now likely to be even bigger, however.
The latest lockdown restrictions will now see online shopping as the only option for consumers throughout the November with online channels more important than ever before for retailers.
Meanwhile, 63.5% of Britons intend to spend less for Christmas this year than last year, with only one in 10 people intending to buy more presents.
And as Christmas Day falls on a Friday and Boxing Day on a Saturday, the long-term trend for footfall on Boxing Day to decline each year due to the growth in online spending could be accelerated. This year, due to the ‘Rule of 6’ that limits the size of social gatherings and the growth in online spending, Springboard forecasts that the decline will be proportionately greater as it’s likely that the weekend will be used by many families to meet with those they weren’t able to see on Christmas Day.
Another finding from that survey shows 49.8% of people being uninterested in Black Friday.
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