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Published
Dec 17, 2018
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UK footfall fails to provide pre-Christmas cheer says Springboard

Published
Dec 17, 2018

The peak pre-Christmas trading weekend was relatively quiet for UK stores with the hoped-for rush not happening as footfall dropped as much as 7.3% on Saturday and recovered only slightly on Sunday, specialist tracking firm Springboard said.


UK fashion stores were in clearance sale mode at the weekend



That figure covered high streets, retail parks and shopping centres with high streets suffering more as footfall dropped by 9% on Saturday.

And the reason? Very cold and often stormy weather was blamed, as was the ongoing shift to online shopping that’s even more marked at Christmas than throughout the rest of the year. 

Footfall improved on Sunday, but not by much as it rose only 0.1% year-on-year. And this was largely due to people shopping after having not ventured out the day before rather than any sudden urge to spend, spend, spend. 

It all meant that over Saturday and Sunday, total footfall dropped by 4.3% with the biggest falls being seen on high streets and in shopping centres.

Obviously, the weather is easy to blame. But there’s also general consumer caution to take into account and the Brexit effect as UK politicians continue to argue about Brexit’s ultimate direction while consumers and businesses look on in disbelief.

But Springboard’s marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle was focusing on the weather as the key issue. She said: "If people are presented with really terrible weather they then have the choice to shop online, and they can make other choices about what to do with their time. That unfortunately offers them sometimes better alternatives than trailing around a town centre or a high street in freezing cold or rainy weather.”

She also said that the rise in footfall (+6.1 across the three retail location types) early in the week was actually misleading as the year-ago comparison period had seen snow, which drove the week’s figures down artificially in 2017.

Does this mean the shopping season is another disaster? Of course, there’s still next weekend’s last-minute opportunity to come, but Wehrle thinks many consumers will have wrapped up their Christmas shopping by then and will be more focused on relaxing or travelling to wherever they’re going to spend the next few days.

So it’s no surprise that many stores in the fashion sector are now in full clearance sale mode having accepted that the hoped-for rush isn’t going to materialise.

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