An average pre-Christmas footfall drop of -2.5% across the country was not a surprise as the decline in footfall has been an annual trend in all but one year since 2009 reports Springboard.

And the Black Friday and Cyber Monday marketing ploys are proving to be double-edged swords as they brought Christmas trading forward which led to a noticeable decline in footfall over the two weeks leading up to Christmas.

The footfall result reflects the caution and spending restraint of consumers which typifies low consumer confidence that has been ongoing for the last three years.

High Street footfall declined by -3.5%, Retail Park footfall decreased by -0.5% and Shopping Centre footfall declined by -2.1%.

The challenge for destinations and stores was not only that this was the eighth consecutive year that footfall has decreased in this key trading month, but that it was also at the upper end of the scale in terms of the magnitude of decline.

The reasons why this occurred are varied but reflect the caution and spending restraint of consumers.  There has been a strong shift in consumer demand towards experience/leisure-based trips, away from mere shopping. This was evident on Boxing Day when footfall up to 5pm when stores were trading, declined by -10.6%, but post 5pm when most stores were nearing the end of the trading day – footfall dropped by less than half this at -5.1% as shoppers headed for restaurants and bars.

Author: Chris Dobson