Brexit concerns and e-commerce to drive footfall down in December

It looks like the challenge facing the UK high street is set to continue this Christmas, with footfall in December predicted to drop by 4.2 percent, according to new figures by retail intelligence company Springboard.

The predicted drop in footfall, which is steeper than last December’s 3.5 percent drop, is another reminder of the current trading challenges facing UK retail, and the country’s growing uncertainty concerning Brexit. Footfall has declined in every month of 2018, with the rate of decline increasing in magnitude in each month since August.

Springboard predicts that footfall will decline across all of the three destination types in December, with high streets and shopping centres hit hardest, seeing predicted drops in footfall of 4.6 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively. Footfall in retail parks is forecast to drop by 2.6 percent.

Retail footfall to drop by 4.2 percent in December as Brexit concerns continue

According to Springboard, Brexit uncertainty is playing a key role in the continual drop in footfall: “As we head into the zenith of the retail trading calendar, both retailers and consumers alike are in the midst of the greatest degree of uncertainty in recent times,” Diane Wehrle, Springboard Marketing and Insights Director said in a statement.

She continued: "However, the fact that the parliamentary vote is not taking place until the middle of December might deliver a slight glimmer of hope for some large ticket item retailers, as consumers may purchase now rather than later in an attempt to outrun inflationary pressures that are expected should the Brexit deal not be ratified.”

MPs are set to vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal in parliament on Tuesday at around 7pm. The Prime Minister's EU Withdrawal Agreement is expected to be rejected by MPs.

According to a Sky News analysis, 184 MPs are expected to vote for Mrs May’s deal, while 395 are expected to vote against it. The figures show only one Labour MP will support the deal.

Black Friday 'adversely' impacts high street footfall

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 highlights the ‘Black Friday effect’ - where more and more shoppers are deciding to buy online rather than in-store during the discount sales period.

According Wehrle, the drop in footfall in November is evidence that Black Friday “delivers no tangible benefit to bricks and mortar stores.” She continued: “Whilst online shopping was inevitably more prevalent than in other months, the vast majority of spending still remained in store and this is what Black Friday impacts adversely."

Photo credit: Artem Bali, Pexels

 

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