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Christmas to come early with shoppers wary of supply chain issues

By Don-Alvin Adegeest

11 Oct 2021


Image: Christmas shopping via Pexels

A potential supply chain crisis this holiday season will see shoppers start early, with retail footfall expected to see greater boosts over Black Friday than the week prior to Christmas.

The widespread awareness amongst consumers of potential issues is likely to lead to shoppers bringing their Christmas purchasing forward to November in order guarantee the availability of their desired gifts.

Figures from Springboard, the retail insights and forecasting agency, anticipated a rise of 7.9 over Black Friday on November 22nd, compared to 6.5 percent the week before Christmas.

The Springboard forecast also expects footfall across UK retail destinations this Christmas will average to be 17 percent lower than 2019, continuing the current trajectory seen in September 2021. The drop in UK footfall from 2019 is predicted to be driven by high streets and shopping centres but retail parks will show ongoing resilience this Christmas strengthening by 5.5 percent.

Footfall in large city centres will strengthen over the six week Christmas period, overtaking smaller high streets, as consumers seek out the Christmas shopping experience they missed last year. Footfall will be +80.9 percent stronger in comparison to 2020 when the UK was forced into lockdown 2.0.

Many retailers will be closed on Boxing Day

The week post Christmas, kicks off with Boxing Day on Sunday. Springboard highlight that footfall has declined on Boxing Day in every year since 2016, dropping by -8.6 percent in 2019 from Boxing Day in 2018. This is unlikely to change this year as footfall is not only generally lower on Sunday due to reduced hours, but also a number of leading retailers have already announced that they will not be opening, which will lead consumers to defer trips, and use this day to spend with family.

In the week post Christmas, footfall in high streets and shopping centres will drop by around -20 percent, and this level of decline post Christmas has been a trend for the past decade. However, a need to replenish food and groceries post Boxing Day combined with discounting will continue to drive increased footfall into retail parks in the week following Christmas.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard commented: “This year, the ongoing impact of the covid-19 pandemic, along with the supply issue associated with the shortage of HGV drivers, which has already affected stock in food stores and led to the recent fuel crisis, will unfortunately cause further issues for bricks and mortar retailers over the Christmas trading period. In addition, the end of the furlough scheme, coinciding with recent increases in energy prices are likely to further dampen footfall as household spend on Christmas gifts is constrained and family experiences are favoured.

“Although footfall will be 80.9 percent stronger in comparison to 2020, this result is distorted as last year retailers were forced to close their doors for four weeks from the beginning of November, which overlapped, with two of the six week Christmas trading period. Whilst footfall will rise over the Christmas trading period, it will remain lower than pre-pandemic levels, part of which is the long term shift of some spend online which has impacted footfall by around -1.5 percent per annum for the past decade.”