Black Friday fails to boost footfall
Helen Dickinson OBE | Chief Executive | British Retail Consortium
“Footfall figures slipped back slightly on last month, as the harsh November weather deterred some customers from shopping instore. While footfall over the Black Friday weekend failed to match its 2019 levels, this year saw deals spread over the entire month, allowing customers to bargain hunt over a prolonged period. Nevertheless, this month’s footfall was still comparatively strong at the second highest figure for this year, only second to October. London also started to catch up with other major cities as the Christmas lights and markets kicked off the festive season, whilst Northern Ireland consumers benefitted from the High Street voucher system.
“Much of the progress made over the last four months was wiped out in December as surging Omicron cases and new work-from-home advice deterred many from shopping in-store, particularly in towns and city centres. As case numbers rose precipitously, many people chose to limit social mixing in the run up to Christmas and shop less frequently. Nevertheless, while UK footfall saw a moderate decline compared to previous months, it remained above levels of other major European economies, as the country avoided some of the more severe restrictions implemented elsewhere. “December footfall capped a challenging year for brick-and-mortar stores, which saw footfall down one-third on pre-pandemic levels, though this was a significant improvement on 2020. With Christmas out the way, time will tell if shoppers return to their local high streets to embrace January sales and the arrival of spring collections. Still, retailers may have to work twice as hard to tempt many consumers back into the cold this January.”
Andy Sumpter | Retail Consultant – EMEA | Sensormatic Solutions
“While there weren’t any formal government restrictions, aside from the Plan B mask-wearing mandate, placed on retailers in December, concerns about the rapid spread of Omicron dealt a blow to shopper confidence, as consumers self-policed social contacts and limited shopping trips in a bid to save their own Christmases. But this will have done little to save the Christmases of retail businesses, effectively stalling the High Street’s recovery in the run up to their most important trading period, with shopper counts across all retail settings receding to the levels seen in August, wiping away the slow but steady footfall recovery and gains we had seen up until the start of November.” “With the booster vaccination programme being delivered at pace and some glimmers of hope that the Omicron wave maybe plateauing in some regions, retailers will be hoping that consumers’ cautious optimism returns, and with that a new year’s resolve to continue to support local High Streets and bricks-and-mortar stores.”