UK footfall hits "lull" ahead of Black Friday
The lull before the storm? UK footfall had a quiet week as consumers prepared for the annual shopping frenzy, better known as Black Friday, said Springboard.
Footfall across all destinations rose by a modest 1.6% last week (13-19 November) from the previous seven days, driven mostly by high streets (+1.7%) and shopping centres (+2.4%) while footfall in retail parks remained largely level (+0.5%).
“This indicates reservation in consumers and a lull in footfall prior to Black Friday, despite a range of promotions already being active”, Springboard noted.
The impact of the small rise in footfall last week was felt in the annual result, with the uplift from 2021 dropping back by nearly a half to +2.8% from +5% in the week before last “which is a potential reflection on nervousness around the current cost of living crisis”, it added.
The largest hit on an annual basis was felt in high streets, where the increase from 2021 dropped back by nearly a third to +2.7% from +6.5% in the week before last. On the plus side, the gap from the 2019 footfall level narrowed slightly to -10.5% from -11.1% in the week before last.
However, the results for the week as a whole can present a slightly misleading picture as virtually all of the uplift emanated from increases over the week on Sunday and Monday that averaged +12.7%, which represented a bounce-back from -9.4% in the week before last.
Between Tuesday and Thursday footfall dropped from the week before last by an average of -3.4% (versus +1.9% in the previous week), then it improved a little on Friday and Saturday to an average of +0.6%.
Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard, said that despite the range of Black Friday promotions already being active, “consumers have not yet increased their shopping activity, and may well be holding back in the hope of securing more favourable discounts as the week progresses”.
She added: “The see-sawing nature of footfall from week to week makes an annual comparison helpful, and last week the uplift in footfall 2021 fell back to nearly half of that in the week before last, demonstrating the vulnerability of consumer activity. “
And between Tuesday and Thursday last week when footfall declined from the week before, “the increase from last year was eradicated”.
This comes as news broke that H&M has been closing UK stores adding up to one in five of its estate over recent years, which is a process that many retailers have undergone post-pandemic and over the long term. It reflects a need to future-proof their store networks and also cautiousness in the current climate.
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