Westfield sees Christmas shopping visitor rise
Shopping malls giant Westfield said Wednesday that it saw 14.1 million visitors at its London and Stratford City centres over the Christmas period, with 800,000 visitors during the Super Saturday weekend just before Christmas and 850,000 for the Black Friday sales weekend.
That was a 1% increase year-on-year and while that’s not a big rise, against a backdrop of falling visitor traffic to stores in general and especially to malls, it’s actually a very strong performance.
It also highlights the strength of ‘supermalls’ in the ongoing battle to attract an increasingly-online and experience-focused shopper.
Westfield said that it saw a number of changes for the 2017 season with Black Friday having been transformed from a one-day event into a three-day shopping weekend.
And the ‘Super Weekend’ immediately preceding Christmas showed shoppers leaving their festive spend until later than ever in the season. This drove footfall in the final week before Christmas to 1.85 million. Whether this late shopping surge is a permanent fixture of the Christmas season, or just a reaction to the fact that December 25 was on a Monday this year, won’t become clear until the 2018 and 209 seasons, of course.
Westfield also said that Boxing Day retained its appeal and was its third peak day with over 320,000 visitors at the two malls.
The company thinks that while many more people than ever are choosing to shop online before Christmas and for post-Christmas discounts, “the demand for in-store experience and being part of the festive atmosphere means shoppers still flock to physical stores.”
Westfield itself pulled out all the stops on the experiences front this Christmas season with initiatives such as Gwen Stefani switching on the Westfield London Christmas lights and giving a special performance, as well as the UK’s first Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire hyper reality experience.
There was also Style Trial, a pop-up festive rental designer fashion boutique, plus a Ferrero Rocher multi-sensory tasting experience, a Chill Lounge pop-up ice bar, The Wish Factory Santa’s Grotto for adults and an immersive Christmas Grotto experience for kids.
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