Dive in shopping footfall expected during Christmas period

Turmoil on the high street is set to continue through the pivotal Christmas and Black Friday trading period as footfall looks set to slump dramatically compared to last year, according to new data.

Retail intelligence firm Springboard has forecast that UK shopping destinations will see footfall for the six weeks to Boxing Day drop almost a third below the same period last year.

It said footfall is set to be 32.7% down year-on-year with high street stores hardest hit by a shift towards online Christmas shopping.

Retailers had hoped that Christmas would provide much needed respite to high street stores which have been battered by enforced closures and lockdown restrictions since the pandemic first hit in March.

Christmas shopping 2019
A survey reported that 63.5% of people plan to reduce their Christmas spending this year (Andrew Matthews/PA)

However, Springboard analysts have forecast that high street footfall will be down 40.5% for the six weeks from November 22 to Boxing Day.

Shopping centre are also expected suffer a challenging Christmas with the survey projecting a 37.4% decline in footfall.

Meanwhile retail parks are expected to be more resilient as social distancing is often easier and these sites often have large supermarkets driving traffic. Retail parks are expected to see footfall drop by 10.9%.

These projections are based on an extension of current restrictions but Springboard said the picture is expected to get worse if more intense lockdown measures are introduced.

Footfall could drop by as much as 80%, similar to the fall at the height of the pandemic in April, if a nationwide lockdown is enforced, it said.

A survey of 1,000 shoppers by Springboard also revealed that 63.5% of Brits intend to spend less on Christmas this year than last.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard said: “This Christmas, across the country there is excitement and longing for a national holiday and celebration after a turbulent year.

“Our footfall forecast over the Christmas trading period offers a small glimmer of hope to retailers as footfall is anticipated to improve from the period since retail reopened back in June.

“However, with lockdown restrictions still in place across differing towns and Covid-19 guidelines changing the way consumers shop, 2020 will see a more muted Christmas.

“As the Government continues to warn that it is too early to say what restrictions will be in place over the Christmas period, it is essential for retailers to prepare themselves for tighter restrictions to ensure if there is another national lockdown – they can continue to trade through other platforms such as online.”

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