No last-minute “dads’ dash” for high street shops on Christmas Eve

High street Christmas

There was no last-minute “dads’ dashes” to the high street on the final shopping day before Christmas, with figures showing a decline in footfall by almost -10%.

The number of people going into shops in Britain on Christmas Eve fell by -9.4% compared to the same day in 2018, according to figures by Ipsos Retail Performance.

Books and stationery stores were the only sector to experience year-on-year growth, with footfall up by 6.9%, according to the company’s Retail Traffic Index (RTI).

It comes as trips to non-food stores during the last full week before Christmas increased by 13.7% on the previous week, but fell by -14.2% when compared to 2018.

So-called “super Saturday” – the last Saturday before Christmas Day – also saw footfall drop by -6.2% on 2018.

Tim Denison, director of retail intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance, said: “Christmas Eve, traditionally the day that men take to the streets to do their Christmas shopping, was a bit of a damp squib this year.

“The eleventh hour came and went without the usual dart to the shops, seeking to find last-minute inspiration and salvation.

“Perhaps confidence in same day/next day delivery of online orders is now such that the infamy of ‘dads’ dash’ will be consigned to Christmas past.”

The latest data from Springboard backs up those by Ipsos. Its figures show that the number of shoppers going into high-street stores yesterday fell -8.9% before midday. Across all retail locations, including shopping centres and retail parks, footfall was down -7.8%.

It marks a poor showing on the last day of the crucial pre-Christmas period, but Christmas Eve footfall was also down -6% compared to Monday.

“Footfall [on Christmas Eve] in retail parks has been slightly more resilient than that in high streets and shopping centres, with a decline of -3% from [Monday], versus drops of -7.4% in high streets and -5.8% in shopping centre,” Springboard said.

Trevor Pereira, commercial director at shopping centre operator Intu said the group had experienced a last-minute boost to trade and that Monday had been its best day of 2019.

“We’ve seen a flurry of excitement and a final boost to pre-Christmas sales as visitors stock up on last-minute goods. [Monday] was our busiest day of the year so far, with just under 1.8 million visitors to Intu centres across the UK,” Pereira said.

He added: “The right mix of shopping and leisure means our centres are drawing in visitors looking for those important, last-minute gifts, who are then staying longer to celebrate the start of the holidays with their friends and family and enjoy all the festive attractions and events on offer.”