November footfall declines despite Black Friday sales

UK retail footfall deepened in November, with shopper numbers falling 1% over the previous year compared with October’s fall of 0.4%.

According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC)-Springboard footfall monitor covering the four weeks from October 30 to November 26, high street footfall dropped for the third consecutive month, by 0.7% – a further drop on the 0.4% fall in October.

Footfall in retail park locations fell 0.1% after growth in November of 1.1%. Footfall in shopping centres fell for the tenth consecutive month, by 2.3%.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson OBE said:  “Black Friday did little to impact the overall monthly trend in footfall. Whilst the event clearly attracted shoppers to stores, it was retailers’ online offerings who were the real winner; with shoppers for non-food items spending more than one in four pounds online, setting a new record for online share.

“It’s clear that the browser is rapidly replacing the high street as the venue of choice to hunt down a bargain. With that trend set to continue, the role of physical stores – still an enormously important part of retail – is shifting, and retailers are having to re-engineer and reinvent their real estate to work seamlessly with their digital presence.”

Springboard marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle added: “November footfall revealed four distinct trends: a continued bounce back of the high street from last year with footfall moving to -0.7% from -3.4% in November 2015; the ongoing significance of Black Friday for the high street as well as online; a slowdown in the growth of footfall to out-of-town destinations; and, of most concern, a further decline in footfall to shopping centres.

“November was the seventh month with an improvement in high street footfall. But Black Friday is the key trading feature of November. Not only was it the busiest trading day of the month but footfall rose by 2% from Black Friday last year.

“Online purchases rose by 6.7% versus a forecast increase of 25%, demonstrating that whilst consumers shopped and researched discounts online, they also visited bricks and mortar stores.

“However, the concerning ongoing trend is a further decline of -2.3% in footfall to shopping centres. Some of this reduction is inevitable, as malls are dominated by retailers that trade equally effectively online, leading to a shift away from the need for frequent functional trips to longer, leisure-driven trips that are undertaken less often.

“The challenge for malls is future-proofing their success by delivering an integrated retail experience that satisfies consumers appetites, suggesting that if investors don’t regain confidence to invest in upgrading their shopping centres, the decline could continue throughout 2017.”

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