November shopper footfall down as Black Friday bites


Shoppers on Oxford Street

The number of people out shopping in the UK in November showed a “significant” fall compared with last year, retail researchers say.

Analysis firm Springboard found a 3.2% decrease in footfall at shopping centres, retail parks and High Streets.

The figures showed the Black Friday effect was driving more shopping online during a longer period, the firm said.

The decline was “indisputable evidence” that Black Friday was of no benefit to physical stores, it added.

Springboard said it expected footfall to decline by 4.2% year-on-year in December, a bigger drop than the 3.5% decrease seen in December 2017.

“Since 2013, when Black Friday became established as a key trading day, footfall has decreased in every year bar one and the only increase in 2017 was just +0.2%,” said Diane Wehrle, Springboard’s marketing and insights director.

“This year, amidst all of the other challenges facing retail, the drop in footfall of -3.2% in November was the largest of any November since Springboard started publishing footfall data in 2009; and in the week of Black Friday itself, footfall declined by -5.5%, more than in any week of the month.”

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The growth of online shopping has been one of the main challenges facing the UK’s High Streets, which have seen a number of store chains collapse this year as trading conditions worsen.

Springboard said the UK’s political turmoil over Brexit was also having an impact on shoppers’ purchasing decisions.

“As we head into the zenith of the retail trading calendar, both retailers and consumers alike are in the midst of the greatest degree of uncertainty in recent times,” said Ms Wehrle.

“However, the fact that the Parliamentary vote is not taking place until the middle of December might deliver a slight glimmer of hope for some large-ticket item retailers, as consumers may purchase now rather than later, in an attempt to outrun inflationary pressures that are expected should the Brexit deal not be ratified.”