Footfall decline deepens despite Black Friday

Footfall in November declined further, despite Black Friday sales, new figures have revealed.

In the four weeks to November 26, Footfall fell by one per cent compared with a year ago. This is lower than the three-month average of -0.8 per cent.

High street footfall fell for the third consecutive month by 0.7 per cent, compared with the 0.4 per cent drop reported in October.

Retail parks saw a decrease of 0.1 per cent in footfall, after seeing growth in October of 1.1 per cent. While shopping centre footfall saw a 2.3 per cent drop, falling for the tenth consecutive month and taking the three-month average to -2.2 per cent.

Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium chief executive, said: “The drop in footfall we saw across the UK in October deepened in November, with shopper numbers falling one per cent over the previous year compared to October’s fall of 0.4 per cent.

“As we saw in the sales data, Black Friday did little to impact the overall monthly trend in footfall. While the event clearly attracted shoppers to stores, it was retailers’ online offerings, which were the real winner, with shoppers for non-food items spending more than one-in-four pounds online, setting a new record for online share.

“It’s clear that the browser is rapidly replacing the high street as the venue of choice to hunt down a bargain. With that trend set to continue, the role of physical stores – still an enormously important part of retail – is shifting and retailers are having to re-engineer and reinvent their real estate to work seamlessly with their digital presence.”

Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard, added: “November footfall revealed four distinct trends: a continued bounce back of the high street from last year with footfall moving to -0.7 per cent from –3.4 per cent in November 2015; the ongoing significance of Black Friday for the high street as well as online; a slowdown in the growth of footfall to out of town destinations; and of most concern, a further decline in footfall to shopping centres.

“November was the seventh month with an improvement in high-street footfall, but Black Friday is the key trading feature of November. Not only was it the busiest trading day of the month, but footfall rose by two per cent from Black Friday last year. Online purchases rose by 6.7 per cent versus a forecast increase of 25 per cent, demonstrating that while consumers shopped and researched discounts online, they also visited bricks-and-mortar stores.

“However, the concerning ongoing trend is a further decline of -2.3 per cent in footfall to shopping centres. Some of this reduction is inevitable, as malls are dominated by retailers that trade equally effectively online, leading to a shift away from the need for frequent functional trips to longer, leisure driven trips that are undertaken less often. The challenge for malls is future-proofing their success by delivering an integrated retail experience that satisfies consumers’ appetites, suggesting that if investors don’t regain confidence to invest in upgrading their shopping centres, the decline could continue throughout 2017.”