Super Saturday disappoints as pre-Christmas high street footfall slumps

Retailers which geared up for a Super Saturday on the last weekend before Christmas were left disappointed as high street footfall fell significantly from last year.

The number of shoppers buying gifts on Saturday December 21 slid 6.2% against the equivalent Saturday last year, according to research firm Ipsos.

Data from fellow retail researcher Springboard pointed to an even steeper decline, as it reported a 7.6% slump against the equivalent Saturday in 2018.

Ipsos said that footfall on Super Saturday was up 5.5% against the previous Saturday, with a particular rise in footfall at department stores.

It said jewellers were also popular with last-minute Christmas shoppers, as they reported an 18% increase in footfall against the Saturday a week earlier.

Shoppers on Buchanan Street, Glasgow
Shoppers on Buchanan Street, Glasgow

Tim Denison, director of retail intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance, said: “Super Saturday was not as super as many non-food retailers would have wished for.

“However, with one extra shopping day before Christmas Day than last year we hadn’t expected Saturday to be quite so busy, and so it transpired.

“For the month as a whole, our -6.1% year-on-year forecast for store footfall still looks on track – a result that many retailers would happily take at the end of such a torrid year.”

Trading for the past week – from Sunday December 15 to Saturday December 21 – was also down on the same period a year earlier, as footfall dipped 7.2%, according to Springboard.

Springboard said that high streets and shopping centres particularly bore the brunt of this decline, as footfall at these sites slipped 8% and 7.2% respectively.

Footfall at retail parks was slightly more robust, falling a more modest 5.5% for the week, according the data.

It also said footfall worsened as the week continued, with an average decline of 9.3% between Thursday and Saturday, compared to an average slump of 5.2% between the Sunday and Wednesday at the start of the week.