Dec 19, 2019
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UK footfall drops sharply says Ipsos Retail Performance

Dec 19, 2019

Black Friday may have turned out to be better than expected for both online and physical stores, but December hasn’t been doing quite so well. A few days after John Lewis said its latest weekly sales fell, Ipsos Retail Performance issued its Retail Traffic Index footfall figures that showed a double-digit drop in the week to December 14.

Malls like Basingstoke's Festival Place may have been seeing healthy footfall this festive season but overall footfall in Britain has fallen

Shopper numbers were actually down as much as 10.6% year-on-year and this has led the tracking specialist to revise its forecast for the whole of December down by as much as 1.4% to a final monthly drop of perhaps 6.1%.

Given the fairly hefty falls we’ve been seeing in recent years, it means shops are now significantly emptier in December than they were just half a decade ago.

It had all looked so good back in November when Black Friday coinciding with payday drove a surge of interest in the shopping event. In the week to November 30, shopper numbers has risen 20.9% and Black Friday itself saw footfall rising 3.3%. This was unexpected given the dire predictions of ‘Black Friday fatigue’ that had been coming out and also the fact that the event has been seen as mainly an online phenomenon.

But it seems that November’s gain has been December’s loss. “Last week was something of a surprise,” said Dr Tim Denison, director of retail intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance. “Footfall decreased by 1.8% week-on-week and by 10.6% against the same week of last year. We would normally expect to see slight growth week-on-week in Week 3, before building again sharply to its crescendo on Super Saturday in the final full week before Christmas”.

So is he worried? Not yet, although he said “this is the week that really matters as it will shape the outcome of the Christmas campaign. Anything short of a 12.5% lift in footfall against last week would signify a disappointing end to another difficult year for retailers. The jury is out where we will end up.”

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