High Street

Footfall struggles to keep up in November

Footfall in November fell by 3.2%, a significant decline on the previous year when it grew by 0.2%, according to new figures from Springboard.

According to the research, it is the twelfth month of consecutive decline, and the group added that the numbers illustrate the ‘Black Friday’ effect of driving more shopping online during the period which is also becoming longer. It is also forecast that footfall will decline by 4.2% in December, a greater drop than the 3.5% drop in December last year.

Diane Wehrle, Springboard marketing and insights director, said: “The -3.2% drop in footfall in November is indisputable evidence that Black Friday delivers no tangible benefit to bricks and mortar stores.

“Whilst online shopping was inevitably more prevalent than in other months, the vast majority of spending still remained in store and this is what Black Friday impacts adversely. Since 2013, when Black Friday became established as a key trading day, footfall has decreased in every year bar one and the only increase in 2017 was just +0.2%.”

She added: “As we head into the zenith of the retail trading calendar, both retailers and consumers alike are in the midst of the greatest degree of uncertainty in recent times.

“However, the fact that the parliamentary vote is not taking place until the middle of December might deliver a slight glimmer of hope for some large ticket item retailers, as consumers may purchase now rather than later in an attempt to outrun inflationary pressures that are expected should the Brexit deal not be ratified.”

Sander Roose, CEO of pricing automation firm Omnia Retail, told Retail Sector: “This is a dangerous time for UK retailers, as lower footfall rates and weaker-than-expected sales can prompt a knee-jerk response to heavily discount products. However, our recent research found that a fifth (19%) of retailers have negatively impacted their business due to an ill-thought-out pricing strategy.

“Crucially, there is a difference between intelligent, strategic discounting, and engaging in a damaging ‘race to the bottom’ on price, which can do retailers more harm than good. 2018’s winners will be those that don’t simply cut prices to attract customers, but price intelligently – both online and off.”  

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