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BRC-Springboard: festive footfall reflects changing face of shopping

Footfall in December was 2.4% lower than a year ago, up on the 2.9% fall in November and marginally above the three-month average of -2.7%.

High streets reported the greatest fall, down 3.7% and on a three-month basis reported a drop in footfall of 3.8%, which is the worst drop since August 2012.

Footfall in out-of-town locations and shopping centres fell 1.2% and 1.8% respectively on a 3 month basis.

All regions and countries with the exception of Wales (-3.8%), South West (-3.4%) and Northern Ireland (-8.7%) reported footfall above the UK average of (-2.4%).

Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium Director General, said: "These figures highlight how the rapid evolution of multichannel is changing the face of shopping, particularly at Christmas. Rather than making multiple trips to the shops over the festive period, many of us planned ahead for our gift-buying and took advantage of retailers' investment in services like click and collect so that they could cover off their festive spending at their convenience.

"The timing of Christmas was also a major factor behind peaks and troughs in shopper numbers during December – with the big day falling on a Wednesday many people held off on finalising their festive spending in the last few days.

"We saw in last week's sales figures that the final result was respectable overall, with multichannel the ‘story of the season'. These figures similarly highlight that continuing caution and changing spending habits were central themes of Christmas trading in 2013."

Diane Wehrle, Retail Insights Director at Springboard, said: "Unfortunately November's warning of a challenging Christmas trading period came to pass. Footfall increased over the month from November, but the uplift was just not enough to deliver an increase from December 2012 and footfall dropped annually by -2.4 per cent.

"'The drop in footfall was double that of December 2012 but, unlike last year, high streets bore the brunt with an annual decline of more than double that in shopping centres. The combination of the emphasis by retailers to drive online sales and the discounting introduced by retailers early on in the month meant that shoppers delayed visits to retail destinations until as late as possible which adversely affected footfall early on in the month. And then, over the last weekend before Christmas, severe weather suppressed what retailers hoped would be the last burst of peak trading activity so that footfall did not have an opportunity to recover before the holiday period."

Source : Helen Dickinson - BRC Director General

14 January 2014
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