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November footfall boosted by Black Friday

Retail Sales

November saw a slightly improved picture for shopper footfall as retailers enticed customers with early deals in the lead up to Black Friday. And while online continues to take the greatest share of Black Friday sales, stores continue to prove popular for visitors as showrooms and click and collect destinations.

Though very welcome after four consecutive months of decline, the month’s growth in footfall is unlikely to signal a reversal of the longer term trend. As price increases for food continue to eat into household finances, consumer spending power for discretionary non-food items will inevitably weaken. So a cautious consumer may sap some of the sparkle from this year’s Christmas trading, which means retailers are going to have to compete even harder for customer spend, which is always good news for consumers.

With these tough conditions in mind, it’s crucial that the Government now negotiates the best deal for UK consumers by securing tariff-free and frictionless trade with the EU said Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium:

Diane Wehrle, Marketing and Insights Director, Springboard: 

The marginal rise in footfall of +0.2% in November compared with a drop of -2% in October should be taken with a pinch of salt and sadly doesn’t necessarily indicate a change in the winter fortunes of retailers.  November was characterised by significant discounting with flash sales of up to 50% off, which culminated in the Black Friday period at the end of the month.  Whilst Black Friday was largely an online event, the rise in footfall of +3.3% from the first half of the month to the second half demonstrated that it drove activity into retail destinations, both in the lead up to it the day itself and over the weekend post Black Friday as shoppers collected online purchases.

However, what is also clear is that many trips were leisure rather than spending driven, as footfall across all destinations rose post 5pm by +1.7% but dropped by -0.3% during retail trading hours.  This is substantiated by the fact that whilst sales on a like for like basis in November rose, this was virtually all driven by food, whilst non-food sales dropped due to the impact of inflation on discretionary spending.

Indeed, with nothing fundamental shifting in terms of inflation or interest rates over the intervening period since October, it lends further weight to the frequently quoted argument that Black Friday simply shifted the Christmas trading calendar forward.  In the light of this, we are anticipating that footfall will be further challenged into December.

Source: Insight DIY Team & BRC Press Release.

Image - Courtesy of Shutterstock.

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12 December 2017

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Thank you for the excellent presentation that you gave at Woodbury Park on Thursday morning. It was very interesting and thought-provoking for our Retail members. The feedback has been excellent.

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Martin Elliott. Chief Executive - Home Hardware.
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