November footfall “saved by Black Friday” but December lull predicted
Overall November footfall across all UK destinations covering the four weeks from 30 October – 26 November 2022 was given a major boost by Black Friday on 25 November, but a lull in shopping activity is predicted to follow in December.
The uplift from 2021 in November across all UK retail destinations was +4.3% which, in the absence of Black Friday, would have been suppressed, most likely at just circa +2.5%.
The gap from pre-pandemic 2019 would also likely to have widened even further to circa -14%, instead of the recorded -11.1%, according to retail experts Springboard.
Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard, said: “November was undoubtedly saved by Black Friday in terms of footfall in UK retail destinations. Black Friday occurred in the last week of the month, with footfall rising in that week by +3.2% from the week before. This is in sharp contrast with a rise of just +1.6% in the previous week and +1.3% in the week before that, with both weeks being preceded by a significant drop of -7.5% in the first week of the month.
“Footfall on Black Friday itself rose by +11.7% from the week before and by +16.8% in shopping centres, which was an uplift that we had forecasted, and which demonstrates that the day is now a firm fix in the annual retail calendar.”
The gap in footfall from 2019 in November remained wider for shopping centres than for high streets (-17.3% in shopping centres versus -12.4% in high streets), much of which was due to a poorer performance in small to medium sized shopping centres where footfall in November was -20.9% below the 2019 level versus -16.3% below in the largest centres.
Wehrle continued: “It is clear that footfall in many smaller malls has been adversely impacted by store closures, some of which will have commenced pre Covid as retailers began rationalising their store networks, which was then heightened during the Covid period when stores closed and did not reopen when all restrictions were lifted.
“This is further exacerbated by the response of some landlords to the lacklustre performance of smaller centres, which has led to them cutting back on investment. In contrast, in the face of hybrid working which has suppressed the recovery of footfall, many high streets have invested heavily in marketing and transforming themselves seasonally.”
Overall footfall in December is predicted to be a mixed affair, with a lull followed by a pre-Christmas flurry of activity, as better last minute deals are sought by festive shoppers.
Wehrle added: “Post Black Friday we are likely to see a lull in footfall over the forthcoming weeks, which is a pattern of activity recorded by Springboard post Black Friday in pre-COVID years.
“There is a six-day trading week in the lead up to Christmas Day this year, which suggests that footfall in the week prior to Christmas (from Sun 11 December) will also be muted, as shoppers may well hold out for the last week, beginning Sunday 18 December, to shop in the hope of benefitting from last minute discounts.”