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Published on December 12th, 2016 | by The GC Team

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Retail footfall declines in November

The decline in retail footfall deepened in November, despite the lift that Black Friday sales were expected to bring. Shopper numbers fell 1% on last year, following a 0.9% drop in October.

High street footfall dropped for the third consecutive month, falling 0.7% year on year. Footfall in retail parks fell 0.1% after growth of 1.1% in October, while shopping centres suffered falling numbers for the tenth consecutive month, dropping 2.3% in November.

“As we saw in the sales data, 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 that 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,” said Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium.

“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.”

Diane Wehrle, Marketing and Insights Director at Springboard, noted some positives in the November figures, one being the bounce back of the high street from last year with footfall moving to -0.7% from -3.4% in November 2015.

“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, Wehrle pointed out that the concerning ongoing trend is a further decline of -2.3% in footfall at shopping centres. Some of this reduction is inevitable, she said, as malls are dominated by retailers that trade equally effectively online, leading to a shift away from frequent functional shopping 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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