Bad weather takes toll on high street in Christmas build-up

It looks like poor weather this weekend has further hurt the UK’s struggling high street, with footfall down 9 percent on Saturday compared to the same day last year, according to retail experts Springboard. Including shopping centres and retail parks, footfall was 7.3 percent lower than in 2017.

Cold and stormy weather was largely to blame, with Storm Deirdre bringing freezing weather to the country's high streets. That, combined with rising business rates, the ever-increasing shift to online shopping, and increased uncertainty surrounding Brexit, did little to help the UK’s ailing high street.

Bad weather and Brexit concerns hurt footfall in December

Over Saturday and Sunday, total footfall dropped by 4.3 percent compared to the same weekend last year, high streets and shopping centres hit hardest. Trade did slightly recover on Sunday, with footfall up 0.1 percent compared to the same day last year.

Commenting on Springboard’s data in a statement, Diane Wehrle, Springboard marketing and insights director, said: "If people are presented with really terrible weather, they then have the choice to shop online, and they can make other choices about what to do with their time.

"That unfortunately offers them sometimes better alternatives than trailing around a town centre or a High Street in freezing cold or rainy weather."

Springboard predicts a continued decline in footfall over the next week compared to last year, which they expect will be -3.5 percent (a drop of -3.2 percent in high streets, -2.8 percent in retail parks and -4.8 percent in shopping centres). Springboard expects that Friday 21 will be the peak shopping day in the week before Christmas.

Retail footfall in November fell by 3.2 percent, a significant drop from the previous year which saw a growth of 0.2 percent. The drop in footfall in November highlighted the ‘Black Friday effect’ - where more and more shoppers are deciding to buy online rather than in-store during the discount sales period. This trend is expected to continue over Christmas and into the New Year with January sales.

Footfall has declined in every month of 2018.

Photo credit: Lisa Fotios, Pexels

 

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