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Pre-Black Friday UK footfall lulls as shoppers “hold back” for more favourable discounts

Tom Bottomley
22 November 2022

Despite a range of promotions already being active pre-Black Friday (25 November), footfall across all UK retail destinations rose by just 1.6% last week ,13-19 November, compared to the week before.

That was driven mostly by high streets (+1.7%) and shopping centres (+2.4%), while footfall in retail parks remained largely level from the week before (+0.5%), according to the latest data from retail experts Springboard.

The impact of the small rise in footfall last week was felt in the annual result, with the uplift from 2021 dropping back by nearly a half to +2.8% from +5% in the week before last, which is a potential reflection on nervousness around the current cost of living crisis.

The largest hit on an annual basis was felt in high streets, where the increase from 2021 dropped back by nearly a third to +2.7% from +6.5% in the week before last. On the plus side, the gap from the pre-pandemic 2019 footfall level narrowed slightly to -10.5% from -11.1% in the week before last.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard, said: “As Black Friday promotions started to become evident, footfall across UK retail destinations rose marginally last week from the week before. However, rather than organic growth in activity all of the uplift was a consequence of a bounce back in footfall on Sunday and Monday from noticeable drops on those two days in the previous week. Over the rest of the week through to Saturday footfall either declined or rose only very slightly from the week before.

“The pattern of footfall last week was driven wholly by high streets and shopping centres, where a large proportion of demand emanates from discretionary spend, whilst in retail parks - many of which have a food store and other essential retailers - footfall was virtually flat on the week before each day.

“This suggests that despite a range of Black Friday promotions already being active, consumers have not yet increased their shopping activity, and may well be holding back in the hope of securing more favourable discounts as the week progresses.

“The see-sawing nature of footfall from week to week makes an annual comparison helpful, and last week the uplift in footfall 2021 fell back to nearly half of that in the week before last, demonstrating the vulnerability of consumer activity.

“This also comes as news broke that H&M is closing one in five UK stores, which is a process that many retailers have undergone post-pandemic and over the long term, reflecting a need to futureproof their store networks and also cautiousness in the current climate.”

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